ECONOMY

Thailand to Tighten Curbs as Virus Flareup Imperils Tourism Plan

Thailand is set to ban sale of alcoholic beverages in restaurants, close schools and amusement parks for two weeks to stem a fresh outbreak of coronavirus that’s spread to most of the country, potentially jeopardizing its plans to reopen borders to foreign tourists.

The closure of bars, pubs, karaoke and massage parlors in areas including Bangkok, the epicenter of the latest outbreak, may be extended nationwide until the end of April, a meeting of the National Committee on Communicable Diseases decided on Thursday. While Bangkok and 17 other provinces will be designated as maximum controlled areas because of the severity of the outbreak, 59 others will be designated as controlled areas, the panel said.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha will chair a meeting of the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration on Friday to consider the fresh curbs. The Southeast Asian nation had last week ordered the closure of entertainment venues in Bangkok and 40 other virus-hit provinces for at least two weeks to contain a third wave of infections that emerged from bars and pubs in the capital city.

The control measures dampened the annual Songkran festivities, when millions of Thais travel across the country for family reunions and holidays, for a second year and weakened private consumption and domestic tourism. An extended period of restrictions may delay plans to lure vaccinated tourists and further weaken an economic recovery that the Thai central bank says is contingent on return of foreign visitors.

Thailand reported 1,543 new Covid-19 cases on Thursday, a single-day record, that took the cumulative tally of infections to 37,453. The new wave, which began early this month, has spread to 70 provinces and sickened more than 8,500 people, some of them with a more contagious variant first found in the U.K.

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