Malls, large retailers on May 17 reopen list

A train is about to depart Siam Station. City inspectors were roped in to help keep order and assist commuters at the BTS station. (Photo by Nutthawat Wicheanbut)

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Shopping malls and large retail outlets selling construction materials will be allowed to reopen as lockdown mea­sures are eased further on May 17 if there is no surge in new infections.

China and South Korea will also be the first countries to be removed from a list of the government's dangerous communicable disease zones.

The issues were discussed at a meeting of the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Thursday.

Taweesilp Visanuyothin, the CCSA spokesman, said the centre will gather opinions about the next round of disease control relaxation from today until next Tuesday and draft the relaxation measures next Thursday. "The next stage of relaxation will begin on May 17 unless the number of new Covid-19 cases soars," he said.

"If the situation is brought under control, shopping malls will be allowed to reopen. If each business can maintain [strict social distancing] measures, malls and other businesses can also resume operations. However, this also depends on cooperation from the people," Dr Taweesilp said.

Meanwhile, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration will meet the Public Health Ministry today to determine which businesses will be allowed to reopen in the second stage of easing.

Moreover, the CCSA agreed with a proposal by Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul that countries where the Covid-19 crisis has eased can be removed from the government's list of dangerous communicable disease zones. Mr Anutin told the meeting the proposed de-listing will help normalise Thailand's relations with them.

However, it was also agreed that the de-listing process must be gradual and that people from those de-listed countries will not be allowed to enter Thailand straight away.

The CCSA will need to discuss necessary measures to handle them and prevent the spread of imported infections, Dr Taweesilp said.

The first group of Thais allowed to return home will be those who are ill, stranded at airports or have expired visas, as well as those who are tourists stranded in other countries. The next group will be monks, students and laid-off workers, he said.


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