The Covid administration zone will remain in place until October 14.

Covid-Free Setting to be intensified from October 1 onwards as Covid-19 restrictions to be relaxed

More businesses and activities will be allowed to resume following the government’s latest decision to relax Covid-19 restrictions but they will see some “requirements” regarding the so-called Covid-free Setting disease control measure

The Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) has resolved to relax the Covid-19 restrictions enforced in 29 “Dark Red” provinces including Bangkok since September 1 after the situation seems to be improving.

The CCSA, chaired by Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, held a meeting on Monday and came up with the resolution, which will be announced as Regulation No. 34 under the Emergency Decree in the Royal Gazette. It will take effect from October 1 to 14 at least.

According to the CCSA’s spokesperson, Dr. Taweesin Visanuyothin, this is in line with the improving situation, which has seen the number of new daily infection cases dropping downwards, close to the 10,000 mark. The peak was in mid-August when the country witnessed the number of cases rose over 23,000 a day. As of today, the official number has been reported at 10,414, and the number of new deaths is 122.

Dr. Taweesin said the Public Health Ministry had reported in the meeting a drop in cases in both Bangkok and its peripheries and the upcountry. The only worrying zone is the Lower South, which sees daily cases climbing.

However, the CCSA’s spokesperson warned people not to let their guard down as the government has decided to relax the restrictions, pointing to the juncture by the end of the month, where the number of daily infection cases could either climb up to 30,000 a day or decline below 10,000, depending on how people behave too.

The critical tools to help keep the outbreak at bay, he added, was the Covid-free Setting and vaccines.

Credit: CCSA

The relaxed rules

In mid-July, the government decided to impose the full lockdown in 13 highly infected provinces including Bangkok before expanding the measure to another 16 provinces in early August.

Since then, these provinces had been placed under the full lockdown plus a seven-hour night curfew for the whole month before the government started to ease the measure early this month 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”)

Since the middle of this month, the country has been experiencing the infection curve lowering down, being near 10,000 this week. The number of daily deaths has also been declined, close to 100. So, the government via the CCSA has decided to further relax the restrictions as such.

Under the new relaxed rules, the night curfew will be shortened to six hours, from 10 pm to 4 am. While some restrictions on prime activities including inter-provincial travel and public gatherings remain the same, others will see more opening time allowed, along with reopening of more businesses and activities.

For example, shopping malls, convenience stores, and dine-ins are allowed to be opened for another one hour, opening until 9 pm (with the same 50% of space allowed for air-conditioned restaurants and 75% of space for open-air restaurants). Live music will be allowed with the disease control restrictions imposed on musicians, in addition.

Credit: PRD

Beauty salons, massage shops, and tattoo shops will be allowed to resume with Covid-free Setting requirements. That means shops and their staff must follow the instructions on regular Covid-19 testing and full vaccination, while their customers will be requested to show proof that they are either fully vaccinated or tested with Antigen Test Kits (ATK).

This will be applied to sports games too, according to the CCSA.

Establishments that Covid-free Setting rules on their opening are still unclear include libraries, art centres, museums, cinemas, and nurseries. They are at this point required to follow certain degrees of restrictions such as limits on their attendance.

Credit: CCSA

Mass vaccination plan

The Public Health Ministry has reported on the progress of the government’s vaccination program, stating that it has managed to vaccinate over 50 million doses to the citizens since February. As of today, 31.5 million doses are the first shot, covering 43.8% of the population, and 18 million more are the second shot, covering 25% of the population.

The government’s procurement of Covid-19 vaccines would result in around 126 million doses acquired by the end of the year. Along with other vaccines procured by other authorised organisations, the country at this point could see as many as 178.2 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines for the people this year, according to the CCSA. The government’s 126 million doses could cover up to 90% of the population or 62 million people, being over the target first set at 70% or 50 million people.

The government sets to achieve full vaccination of 70% of the population by the end of this year, hopefully being able to reopen the country again.

So far, the so-called tourism “Sandbox” program remains the same, running in pilot areas in four Southern provinces including Phuket. The plan to reopen more attractions in key other provinces including Bangkok has been postponed to November 1.

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