As part of revised government measures to contain the recent surge of Covid-19 infections, restaurants in 69 provinces in Thailand will be forbidden from selling alcohol starting on Sunday.
There is no change in the zoning status of eight other provinces approved for tourism promotion, which means alcohol can still be served in restaurants until 9 p.m.
On Friday, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha convened a meeting of the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA), during which the government decided to take a balanced approach to tourism and curb Covid-19.
Dr Taweesilp Visanuyothin, the spokesperson for the CCSA, said that all measures have been thoroughly considered, including health concerns and their effect on people.
In addition to banning alcohol in restaurants, the CCSA stepped up control of public health in all 69 provinces.
Additionally, the CCSA extended the closure of every night entertainment venue across the country, including pubs and karaoke parlours, after many of them failed to comply with precautions, resulting in the latest outbreak of Covid-19 transmissions.
All premises that violate health regulations will be subject to stern action, he warned.
Omicron Alcohol Ban to be revisited
Dr Taweesilp said nightlife venues can, however, apply to provincial communicable disease committees for permission to operate as restaurants instead.
In addition, all offices have been advised to continue work-from-home arrangements until the end of this month where possible, he added. Until further notice, CCSA has agreed to suspend the Test & Go entry program, with Jan 15 as the last day for all pre-approved arrivals.
Approximately 10,000 individuals registered with the program have not yet entered the country, he said. The Thai government announced earlier that all successful applicants must be in Thailand by Monday.
According to the spokesman, “Test & Go is a loophole for viruses to enter the country.”
Most new infections of the Omicron variant have been linked to people who entered under the Test & Go scheme, according to Public Health Ministry officials.
According to the latest CCSA figures released Wednesday, there have been 26,402 tourist arrivals this month, mostly through the Test & Go programme. The number of foreign visitors last year was 416,160. On Nov 1, the program began before it was suspended on Dec 22. The majority of them arrived through the test & go no-quarantine program.
In an effort to contain a spike in cases, the kingdom halted its sandbox programs for all destinations except Phuket on Dec 22.
Designated routes and hotels
As of now, Koh Samui, Koh Tao, Koh Phangan in Surat Thani, Krabi and Phangnga provinces have all been added to the sandbox scheme.
He said Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul had promised not to jeopardize the public’s health over Omicron.
Public health safety was confirmed as a top priority by the minister of health. According to the spokesman for the CCSA, travellers must only use designated routes and hotels.
In the eight provinces approved for tourism promotion, alcoholic beverages can be served in eateries until 9 p.m., the CCSA said. The six destinations are Bangkok, Chon Buri, Krabi, Kanchanaburi, Nonthaburi, Phangnga, Pathum Thani and Phuket.
According to the Public Health Ministry, Thailand has logged 7,526 new Covid-19 omicron cases and 19 more coronavirus-related deaths in the past 24 hours.