Economic hopes rise as shopping malls reopen

Hopes for a rebound in the domestic economy rose last week as the government permitted shopping malls to reopen with social distancing measures enforced. However, authorities extended the ban on international flights for another month until the end of June.

The government gave permission for malls to throw open their doors and welcome shoppers as part of its phased-in reopening plan for the Kingdom in light of the improving Covid-19 situation. Economists are forecasting a contraction this year because of the pandemic. Still, some indexes of investor confidence have begun to rise as a result of the apparent effectiveness of the government response.

The pandemic peaked in Thailand on March 22, with 122 new cases that day. For the past two to three weeks, however, new daily cases have been in the single digits. Thailand has recorded 3,037 cases of Covid-19, with 56 deaths, and 2,888 people have recovered. The rest remain in treatment.

At shopping malls in Bangkok, long lines of customers gathered before opening hours. Private security guards only let customers wearing masks enter the premises. Shoppers were also required to register upon entering to help with contact tracing if needed. The Ministry of Digital Economy and Society developed an app called Thai Chana (Thai Victory) for registration. Announcements reminded shoppers to maintain social distancing.

While the domestic economy began to awaken, the government nonetheless extended its ban on international flights through the end of June. Health officials believe it is still necessary to prevent asymptomatic people infected in other countries from bringing the virus into the Kingdom. Although the ban puts a dent in tourism and international business, the government has made safety its priority.

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