BANGKOK • Thailand will next week shorten curfew hours and ease restrictions on more businesses, the government said yesterday, in response to its low numbers of locally transmitted cases of the coronavirus.
Starting from next Monday, cinemas and theatres can reopen, but with no more than 200 people at a time and with strict social distancing measures, said National Security Council secretary-general Somsak Roongsita.
The curfew will be shortened by one hour, to last from 11pm to 3am, and shopping malls, which reopened earlier this month, will be allowed to extend their operating hours, he added.
“The reopening will help stimulate the economy and ease some financial burdens,” he said.
Zoos, beauty clinics, spas and traditional Thai massage parlours will be allowed to operate, with social distancing in place, as will soccer fields as well as volleyball and basketball courts, but only for training and with limits on spectators. Fitness clubs can also reopen, but with limited users too.
The state planning agency on Thursday said the impacts of the coronavirus could cause the loss of up to two million jobs this year, particularly in the tourism industry.
It predicts that the economy will shrink 5 per cent to 6 per cent this year.
Thailand recorded zero foreign tourists last month after it closed borders and banned international passenger flights, said the tourism ministry in a statement yesterday.
In April last year, there were about 3.2 million foreign tourists who spent about 146 billion baht (S$6.5 billion), said the statement.
Thailand has extended the ban on incoming passenger flights to the end of next month.
The state planning agency predicts the number of foreign arrivals will plunge to 12.7 million this year from a record 39.8 million last year.
Thailand confirmed 11 new coronavirus cases yesterday, and no new deaths. All the cases were arrivals from Kuwait and were in state quarantine.
The government had previously said that it planned to reopen all businesses within the next month.
Thailand has seen a slowdown in locally transmitted cases.
The coronavirus has infected 3,076 people since January and killed 57.