The Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) today, September 27th, announced some relaxation of Covid-19 measures nationwide as well as the extension of the Emergency Decree until the end of November.
TPN media would like to note before listing the measures approved and changes that all of this needs final approval by the Thai Cabinet, who meet to review the proposals tomorrow, Tuesday, September 28th, 2021. After, the proposals will need to become legal orders in the Royal Gazette, and orders that affect provinces, such as easing of restrictions, will need Governor permission. Although some of these steps are mostly formalities, it is important for this to take place.
Finally, this is a developing story and some of these items could potentially change based on final meetings with the Cabinet or provincial orders.
Meeting Changes and Talking Points
According to CCSA spokesperson Taweesilp Visanuyothin at the press conference, the Emergency Decree would be extended for the 14th time from October 1st until November 30th. The color-coded areas remain the same for all provinces nationwide, which leaves 29 “Dark Red” zones with maximum control measures, including Chonburi (Pattaya) and Bangkok. The emergency decree will need final Cabinet approval tomorrow.
Despite the extension, some major relaxations of current Covid-19 health measures also were announced in maximum control zones, including readjusted mandatory curfew hours now from 10:00 PM. to 4:00 AM. (Previously 9:00 P.M. to 4:00 A.M.) and the readjusted closing times of department stores, convenience stores, shops, etc. until 9:00 PM. The measures and curfew will be evaluated again in two weeks, according to the CCSA.
The reopening of more businesses will also be allowed, starting October 1st. The businesses and institutions include nurseries, public libraries, museums, and education centers. They can be opened for not more than 75 percent of their capacity. Other Covid-19 rules, like mask-wearing and social distancing, will apply.
Nail salons, tattoo parlors, massage (all services), and spas can be opened for customers with appointments and can provide service for not more than 2 hours per person. It appears exercise facilities, like gyms and fitness centers, will be allowed to open but will need provincial approval from Governors. There have been mixed messages on outdoor sports fields allowing fans at 25% capacity, this should be clarified in final orders from governors.
Cinemas would be allowed to operate until 9:00 PM. for 50 percent of their capacity. Live music at restaurants can be performed but a limit of five performers and all except the singer must wear a facemask.
Exhibitions, conference halls, and similar venues remain closed to prevent the public from large gatherings. Entertainment venues, like bars, nightclubs, and similar establishments also remain closed. Alcohol remains banned at restaurants.
All of these restrictions, as noted, will require provincial governor approval. Specifics will likely be outlined when orders are released by each province.
Additionally, the CCSA has also approved of the reduction of the minimum quarantine period for arrivals from abroad. This affects both “sandbox” style programs and people who stay in a quarantine location. Those who provide a proof of full vaccination would get the lowest quarantine day of 7 days and have access to “open zones” if they chose (Although could still do an Alternative Quarantine hotel if they wished as well), while those who did not have proof of vaccination would have to be quarantined for a minimum of 10 days (via air and sea) and 14 days (via ground and natural routes) in Alternative Quarantine hotels.
Covid-19 tests have been reduced from 3 to 2, although remain at the expense of the visitor. This change also affects all “Sandbox” style programs and will be effective from October 1st, if given final Cabinet approval and made law in the Royal Gazette.
Dr. Taweesilp also mentioned the reopening of pilot areas to international tourists under the “Sandbox” project that the project would be done gradually and Bangkok, Krabi, Phang Nga, Chonburi (Pattaya, Jomtien, Bang Saray) and Chiang Mai would be the areas to initially welcome vaccinated foreign tourists on November 1st. (Full list below) This plan was originally set to start from October 1st, however, has been pushed back to allow more time for further vaccinations in areas reopening to foreign vaccinated tourists.
Under the plan, vaccinated foreign tourists must stay in a zone for seven days, passing two Covid-19 tests via RT-PCR during this period. Once they pass this seven-day period they may travel throughout the country. Certain items, like COE (Certificate of Entry) from an embassy/consulate will stay for now but are likely to be reduced or eliminated when the Emergency Decree eventually is replaced by communicable disease laws. Tourists must stay at a SHA+ hotel, booked in advance, and not their own residence. They must take a Covid-19 test before flying to Thailand in addition to two tests here. They must also meet mandatory insurance requirements and keep a tracking application on their phones running at all times during their seven-day initial period.
A complete list of the provinces/areas scheduled to open, pending Cabinet and further approval, is here. They are calling them BLUE areas:
From October 1st-Phuket Sandbox and 7+7 Surat Thani (Koh Samui, Old Phangan, Koh Tao), Phang Nga (Khao Lak, Koh Yao), Krabi (Koh Phi Phi, Koh Ngai, Railay. Klong Muang Tubkaek)
From November 1st: Bangkok, Krabi (both Province), Phang Nga (whole province), Prachuap Khiri Khan (Hua Hin, Nong Kae), Phetchaburi (Cha-am municipality), Chonburi (Pattaya, Bang Lamung, Na Jomtien, Bang Saray), Ranong (Koh Phayam), Chiang Mai (Mueang District, Mae Rim, Mae Taeng, Doi Tao), Loei (Chiang Khan) and Buriram. (Mueang District)
From December 1st: Chiang Rai, Mae Hong Son, Lamphun, Phrae, Nong Khai, Sukhothai, Phetchabun, Pathum Thani, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, Samut Prakan, Trat, Rayong, Khon Kaen, Nakhon Ratchasima, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Trang, Phatthalung, Songkhla, Yala, and Narathiwat.
From January 1st: Surin, Sa Kaeo, Chanthaburi, Tak, Nakhon Phanom, Mukdahan, Bueng Kan, Udon Thani, Ubon Ratchathani, Nan, Kanchanaburi, Ratchaburi, and Satun.
Additionally, the CCSA also approved more activities to be allowed for those staying at an Alternative Quarantine who don’t participate in “Sandbox” style programs, including access to exercise facilities, pool, outdoor access, food delivery, and for certain groups short-term business meetings on-site.
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