Covid-19 restrictions remain in place until the end of September along with Covid-free Setting

The CCSA has resolved to maintain the current restrictions enforced in 29 “Dark Red” provinces including Bangkok as it is moving the country towards the “Smart Control and Living with Covid-19” setting

The Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA), chaired by Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, held a meeting today to consider whether to further relax the current restrictions in the Dark Red zone, which have been in place since September 1 as the situation seems to be improving. The zone includes Bangkok and 28 other highly infected provinces under the maximum and strict control.

The Public Health Ministry, however, reported on the projections in October onwards, which show that without any restrictions in place, the infection curve could climb up again to 30,000 cases a day, and the number of deaths could also rise nearly 250 a day, the situation which the CCSA’s spokesperson, Dr. Taweesin Visanuyothin said, would be backward towards the period before the lockdown.

But if the restrictions are maintained plus additional measures concerning Covid-free Setting and “Smart Control”, the curve could further go down below 15,000 and the number of deaths at the same time could decline towards 100.

Hence, the CCSA has decided to maintain the current restriction measures for at least 14 days, starting from September 15 onwards.

“They (the restrictions) will be all the same in place,” said the CCSA’s spokesperson.

Credit: CCSA

Since early this month, the country has been experiencing the infection curve, which was at its peak of over 23,000 a day in mid-August, declining to somewhere below and above 15,000. However, the number of daily deaths remains high each day, mostly over 200. As of today, the number of daily infection cases is reported at 14,403 and the number of new deaths is 189.

The government decided to impose the full lockdown in 13 highly infected provinces including Bangkok in mid-July before expanding the measure to another 16 provinces in early August. Since they had been placed under the full lockdown plus a night curfew for the whole month before the government started to ease the measure in early September while introducing the new concept of living with Covid-19 safely via the “Smart Control and Living with Covid-19″ strategy. (Read: Getting to know “Smart Control and Living with Covid-19”)

Under the relaxed restrictions and the new living concept, the night curfew for seven hours from 9 pm to 4 am is still be in place, but inter-provincial travel across the zones has got some relaxation with certain conditions.

Other prime businesses have also seen some relaxation. Malls and dine-ins are allowed until 8 pm with 50% of space allowed for air-conditioned restaurants and 75% of space for open-air restaurants. Beauty salons and foot massage shops have also resumed their businesses as well as outdoor or open-air sports grounds and gyms. And schools or academic institutions can also be opened under strict disease control measures.

In addition, gatherings of no more than 25 people are also allowed.

For other Red and Orange zones or the maximum control and controlled zones, there are no curfews imposed nor travel restrictions. The opening time for restaurants and their dine-ins has been extended until 11 pm and as normal respectively. Other similar services and venues are allowed to be opened under disease control measures or limited time or audience. Gatherings of no more than 50 and 100 respectively at the same time can be organized in these zones.

Credit: PRD

These relaxed restrictions are enforced along with the “Universal Prevention” or comprehensive public health measures for an individual, as well as the “Covid-free” setting protocol, under which Covid-free Environment, Covid-free Personnel, and Covid-free Customers concepts have been introduced through measures such as full vaccination or antigen testing, which are on a trial as a pre-condition for public services an venues.

All these restrictions in each zone will be continued to be implemented through the rest of September while the Universal Prevention and the Covid-free Setting protocol will be intensified, according to the CCSA’s spokesperson, Dr. Taweesin.

It is still unclear when they will become mandatory, but they are part of the government’s new strategy to live with Covid-19 safely, Smart Control and Living with Covid-19.

Credit: CCSA

Adjusted mass vaccination plan

Aside from public health and social measures, another key success to the strategy lies with coverage of Covid-19 vaccines. According to Dr. Taweesin, an increasing number of vaccine doses will be administered to the citizens in October, with as many as 24 million doses of the vaccines set.

That is partly the result of the increased deliveries of AstraZeneca, which has to catch up with the total target set at around 61 million doses in total.

Over the past few months, the company has delivered around five to six million doses a month, and in September, it sets to deliver 7.7 million doses. Its vaccine doses would then increase to 10 million doses in October, 13 million doses in November, and 14 million doses in December, resulting in the total number of vaccines delivered by the company standing at 62.9 million doses.

Along with other vaccines, the country could see as many as 152.9 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines for the people this year, being beyond the target first set by the government at 100 million doses to cover 50 million people, according to the CCSA’s spokesperson.

As of September 9, 10.9 million people have been fully vaccinated, accounting for around 15% of the population, and 25.95 million more doses are the first shot, according to the Department of Disease Control.