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Curfew ends ,Pubs, bars, Karaoke outlets still closed until January

Thailand will no longer have a curfew starting next month after lifting the nighttime ban being enforced in the last remaining six provinces as part of the measures to revitalise the economy and tourism sector.

The country will also allow travellers to enter the country by land and sea, change the Covid-19 testing method for air travellers and allow tourists to visit more provinces.

These measures will be implemented in December, according to the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA), which held a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Friday.

The decision to open the country more was made even as a new coronavirus variant had been detected in South Africa and Hong Kong. The news sent stock markets reeling in Asia and prompted Britain to ban flights from six southern African countries.

CCSA spokesman Taweesilp Visanuyothin did not mention the new variant in the routine briefing after the meeting.

The Covid-19 task force will remove Tak, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat and Songkhla from the most dangerous list from Dec 1, ending the curfew in the last remaining six provinces, said Dr Taweesilp.

The centre also agreed to the Public Health Ministry’s proposal to adjust testing rules for air travellers from 63 countries and territories by replacing RT-PCR testing with antigen testing from Dec 16.

The change will allow visitors to start travelling in Thailand sooner since the antigen testing takes a much shorter time for the results to be known. At present, visitors must spend a night at hotels waiting for RT-PCR results before they can be out and about.

The spokesman cited as the reason the low proportion of infected visitors since Thailand reopened on Nov 1. Health authorities found 63, or 0.08%, of 81,000 air visitors infected with the virus, according to Public Health Ministry data on Thursday.

Thailand will also add Kanchanaburi, Nonthaburi and Pathum Thani to the list of provinces tourists can visit, in addition to Bangkok, Krabi, Phuket and Phangnga, starting Dec 1.

The CCSA will also allow border entry, starting on Dec 24 with Nong Khai, the province opposite Laos. Details of entry by sea will be announced later.

But the CCSA still kept all night entertainment venues closed at least until mid-January, despite pleas from operators to allow them to open next month to cash in on New Year holidays.

It cited concerns about the resurgence of Covid-19 clusters caused by congestions.

“The country missed the new year celebration last year because of clusters found in entertainment venues,” Dr Taweesilp said.

The meeting on Friday also extended the state of emergency by two months to the end of January.

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