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New Years Eve gets the go ahead

New Year countdown activities can go ahead but must be held in strict compliance with Covid-free guidelines, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha stressed on Friday.

Gen Prayut was responding to reporters’ questions about the New Year countdown festivities across the country after the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) announced the cancellation of all official events planned to mark the New Year amid fears of a surge in Omicron cases in the capital.

The prime minister said the government has laid down clear policies and guidelines and the public should do their part.

The Covid-free setting guidelines include vaccination requirements, universal prevention, health and hygiene measures, as well as antigen testing.

All attendees to state sanctioned events must be fully vaccinated, and those with more than 1,000 participants will require a negative antigen test result 72 hours prior.

Open-air restaurants with good ventilation will be allowed to serve alcoholic drinks to customers during the New Year countdown until 1am nationwide on Jan 1, 2022.

He said the government was closely monitoring the Covid-19 situation and doing its best to keep the spread of the Omicron variant at bay.

He also warned people against falsifying Covid-19 vaccine certificates, saying the vaccines were known to be effective in reducing severity and saving lives.

Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul also urged provincial governors to ensure appropriate precautions were adhered to at all countdown events.

He said the governors should seek out advice from health authorities if they had any questions about public safety.

The minister said the government’s vaccination campaign would continue despite the country having reached its 100-million-dose goal and that getting a booster shot was highly recommended.

Kiattiphum Wongrajit, the public health permanent secretary, warned that Covid-19 cases could spike following the New Year holidays and called on revellers to keep their guard up.

He also asked people to alert health officials if they had concerns that certain public New Year events might not be fully complying with Covid-free guidelines.

He said health officials would make a snap inspection, give advice on how to reduce the risk of Covid-19 and call on provincial communicable disease committees to take further action if necessary.

According to Dr Kiattiphum, public health and local administrative officials would be making sure that social distancing and alcohol consumption rules were upheld.

It was also reported that the Public Health Ministry will next week discuss possible infection scenarios and provide more details about the Omicron variant.

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