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Thailand has banned alcohol in restaurants

Government blames entertainment venues for the spike in Omicron disease and bans serving alcohol in restaurants in 69 provinces

The government has blamed nightlife entertainment venues for a surge in cases of Omicron disease and banned the serving of alcohol in 69 provinces

Thailand banned the serving of alcohol in restaurants in 69 provinces from Sunday as part of a series of revised government measures to contain the recent outbreak of Covid-19 infection, the Bangkok Post reported. In eight other provinces approved to promote tourism, sanitary rules remain unchanged, meaning that alcohol is allowed to be served in restaurants until 9 pm.

These decisions were taken at the Covid-19 Situation Centre meeting chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha on Friday. The government opted for a balanced approach between tourism and combating Covid-19.

“All measures have been comprehensively considered – including health issues and their impact on people,” said Situation Centre spokesperson Tavesilp Visanuiothin after the meeting.

In particular, Tavesilp noted that the situation room had decided to increase its monitoring of public health in the 69 provinces, including a ban on alcohol in restaurants. The Situation Centre has extended a ban on all nightlife entertainment establishments, such as pubs and karaoke bars, across the country. The decision has been taken to postpone the reopening of establishments after many of them failed to follow precautionary measures, leading to the latest outbreak of coronavirus disease.

“The authorities will take strict action against all establishments that violate public health rules,” Tavesilp warned. However, nightlife establishments can apply to provincial communicable disease committees for permission to operate as restaurants, the Situation Centre spokesperson added.

The Situation Centre has left unchanged the status of eight provinces approved to promote tourism, meaning they are allowed to serve alcoholic beverages in restaurants before 9pm. They are Bangkok, Chonburi, Kanchanaburi, Krabi, Nonthaburi, Pathumthani, Phangnga and Phuket.

The government is also advising all agencies to continue working remotely from home until the end of this month if possible, Tavesilp said. In addition, the Situation Centre has agreed to extend the suspension of the Test&Go entry programme until further notice, with January 15 being the last day for all pre-approved arrivals, Dr Tavesilp explained.

About 10,000 people who have registered in the programme have yet to enter the country, according to a Situation Centre spokesperson. The government had earlier said that all approved applicants had until Monday to arrive in Thailand.

“The Test&Go programme is a loophole for the virus to enter the country,” Dr Tavisilp said. Ministry of Health officials said most of the new cases of Omicron variant virus infection were linked to people entering the country under the “Test&Go” scheme.

According to the latest figures released by the situation room, 26’402 tourists have arrived in Thailand this month, most of them under the “Test&Go” scheme. Last year there were 416’160 foreign arrivals. Most arrived under the programme, which started on November 1 and was suspended on December 22.

The sandbox programme for all destinations except Phuket was suspended on December 22 as the government sought to control the surge in incidence and curb the arrival of the Omicron variant in the country.

The islands of Samui, Tau and Phangan in Surat Thani province as well as the entire provinces of Krabi and Phang-nga have been added to the sandbox scheme. Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul gave an assurance that public health would not be compromised, Tavisilp assured.

“The health minister has reiterated the priority of public health security,” Tavisilp said. According to the Situation Centre spokesperson, travellers should only use certain transport and routes and stay in certain hotels.

In the previous 24 hours, 7,526 new cases of Covid-19 and 19 deaths related to the coronavirus were reported in Thailand, the Thai Ministry of Health said on Friday.

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