More areas of Thailand shut down yesterday as a state of emergency took effect to try to stem a rapid rise in coronavirus cases.
The emergency decree, effective until April 30, is meant to give the government powers to order curfews and travel bans. Provinces have also ordered their own restrictions or shutdowns.
The authorities announced 111 new cases of the coronavirus yesterday, bringing the national total to 1,045 and four deaths.
The number of infections has risen steadily since the middle of the month, triggering sterner measures by the government to curb the spread of Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus.
The government has also banned entry of all foreign tourists, effective yesterday. Foreign nationals belonging to diplomatic missions and holders of work permits in Thailand are exempt.
Phuket was the first province to issue a curfew. The 5pm to midnight curfew took effect on Wednesday. Locals are urged to remain at home while tourists told to stay at their hotels. Alcohol consumption on the island’s beaches and other public venues has also been banned.
In Yala, a province bordering Malaysia, travel to and from the province has been banned from midnight yesterday, after a doctor and two nurses tested positive.
Up to 132 Thai nationals from Yala and Pattani, part of the Muslim-majority region in Thailand’s deep south, had attended a religious gathering near Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia late last month that the authorities say led to large-scale spreading of the virus. About 16,000 people attended the event.
The popular beach town of Pattaya and adjacent Chonburi province, a two-hour drive from the Thai capital Bangkok, also closed shopping malls, dine-in restaurants, parks and sports venues effective on Wednesday.
Travel to and from nearby Koh Si Chang island is also banned.
Known for its wild parties, Pattaya’s bars and nightclubs have already been ordered shut since March 18.
Elsewhere across the country, supermarkets and restaurants are exempt from the closure order.
Chiang Mai has shut schools, malls, bars as well as entertainment and sports venues.
The closures come after Bangkok shut down various businesses from March 18 to April 12 – from bars and nightclubs, to massage parlours, spas, salons, gyms, schools and universities.