BANGKOK: Bangkok and 17 other provinces in Thailand were declared maximum control areas or "red zones" on Friday (Apr 16) as the country battles the third wave of COVID-19 infections.
From Sunday, various measures will be implemented, including a ban on some activities and the closure of several venues to limit people's movements and reduce the risk of infection.
However, no curfew will be imposed, said Taweesin Visanuyothin, spokesperson for the Centre of COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA).
Restaurants and cafes in the red zones will be able to operate until 11pm. Dining in will only be allowed until 9pm and alcohol consumption will be prohibited.
"Food for takeaway can be sold until 11pm so as to allow the businesses and activities to continue," said Taweesin in a press briefing on Friday.
Department stores and community malls will be able to operate until 9pm, although the number of visitors will be limited. As for convenience stores, supermarkets, markets and walking streets, they will be able to continue their operations until 11pm.
Besides Bangkok, the red zones include Chiang Mai, Phuket and Chonburi.
Nationwide, night venues such as pubs, bars and massage parlours will once again face a temporary closure of at least 14 days.
Schools and universities will also shut unless permitted by the Education Ministry for special reasons such as exams.
"Events that require the gathering of more than 50 people will be prohibited," Taweesin said.
On Friday, CCSA reported 1,582 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of infections to 39,038. Most of the new cases - 1,577 - were caused by domestic transmission.
According to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, the Thai government has been in touch with different COVID-19 vaccine providers as it tries to secure more doses for the population.
"Today, with the vaccines we have procured, which aren't a lot, we have inoculated 500,000 to 600,000 people so far," he said at a press conference on Friday. "We plan to inoculate 60 per cent of our population."
Thailand is home to about 70 million people.
Its Disease Control Department reported that 510,456 people received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccines between Feb 28 and Apr 15, and 75,576 of them have been given their second dose.