Amid a new wave of coronavirus cases, Thailand’s government restrained ordering new nationwide business shutdowns but empowered some provincial governors to set their own restrictions and pleaded the public not to travel.
Thailand, which had largely controlled the virus by mid-2020, saw a second wave of pandemic beginning in December.
On Sunday, it confirmed 315 new coronavirus cases, the majority of which are from a local transmission, bringing its total to 7,694 cases and 64 deaths since its first case last January.
A senior virologist, Yong Poovorawan from Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, said in a post on his official Facebook page that Thailand also reported its first known case of a more contagious variant of the coronavirus called B.1.1.7 on Sunday.
The variant was found in a family of four who were in quarantine after arriving in Thailand from the UK, and Yong said there is no risk of that variant being spread in Thailand.
The current domestic outbreak is linked to illegal border migration from neighboring Myanmar.
Taweesin Wisanuyothin, a spokesman for Thailand’s COVID-19 taskforce said that the measures, which still need final approval from Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, will empower provincial governors to suspend businesses and other activities if there is a risk of infection.
Adding, "we are asking people for cooperation first. We know that tough measures are needed but that could also lead to losses in other areas so we need to have compromises and have reasonable measures put in place,”
Some ministries and agencies of Thailand have already issued new restrictions in their areas.
The Education Ministry has ordered all public and private schools and vocational training centres to close down from Monday until end of January.
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The Thai Retailers Association has also announced that all shopping malls around the country should close at 9 pm daily, an hour earlier than the usual closing time.