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Aswin orders ‘soft lockdown’ in capital

Aswin orders ‘soft lockdown’ in capital

THAILAND: Starting today (Mar 22), shopping malls and markets in Bangkok and adjacent provinces, except those selling food and essential consumer goods, have been ordered to close for three weeks in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.

CoronavirusCOVID-19healthSafety
By Bangkok Post

Sunday 22 March 2020, 11:00AM


Stocking up: Shoppers form long queues at the Makro wholesale store in Samut Prakan after City Hall yesterday issued an order closing shopping malls and markets in Bangkok and adjacent provinces except those selling food and essential consumer goods for three weeks in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. Photo: Bangkok Post

Stocking up: Shoppers form long queues at the Makro wholesale store in Samut Prakan after City Hall yesterday issued an order closing shopping malls and markets in Bangkok and adjacent provinces except those selling food and essential consumer goods for three weeks in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. Photo: Bangkok Post

The closures in Bangkok, ordered by Bangkok governor Aswin Kwanmuang, come as the number of COVID-19 infections surged by 89 yesterday (Mar 21), the highest since the first case was reported in January, taking the total to 411 infections in the kingdom. (See story here).

The order sent many city residents rushing to supermarkets to stock up on food and essential items yesterday despite assurances that supermarkets and convenience stores will remain open and restaurants can still offer take-out food.

On March 17, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) ordered eight types of establishments including schools, theatres, massage shops and sports arenas to close for 14 days.

In the latest order, seen by some as a soft lockdown, the closures cover 26 types of business including department stores, barbershops, beauty salons and cosmetic clinics and will be in place until April 12.

Governors of Bangkok’s neighbouring provinces, Nakhon Pathom, Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, Samut Prakan and Samut Sakhon, followed suit.

Public Health Minister Anutin Charvirakul yesterday made an emotional plea calling on the public to trust the ministry’s effort to control the COVID-19 outbreak and asking for cooperation with social distancing.

“We have prepared everything in terms of medical staff and medical tools. What we need is strong support from the public and confidence in our medical team. They are ready to ensure the safety of all Thais. We must pass through this crisis together. We won’t make you disappointed,” he said.

Mr Anutin said Bangkok is the largest outbreak hotspot with 80% of patients living in the capital.

Thai Residential

He also said the situation will be improved if the spread of the disease can be contained in the capital. Most patients found in other provinces are those who have travelled from Bangkok, he added.

Pol Gen Aswin earlier said the March 17 measure was adopted after warnings from medical experts about a spike in infections if no sweeping actions were taken.

“Closing these establishments will have an economic impact but the people’s health is the top priority, and staying home can mitigate the risks of COVID-19," he said.

The governor also suggested that companies should ask employees to work from home while urging city residents to refrain from stockpiling food as restaurants would remain open to offer take-home meals while fresh markets and supermarkets would not close.

However, shortly after that announcement was made, there were reports of people rushing out to stock up on supplies with long queues seen at check-out counters and traffic congestion reported near many superstores.

City Hall spokesman Pongsakorn Kwanmuang yesterday asked social media users to refrain from using the phrasing “closing shopping malls and markets” to avoid panic buying and hoarding of food supplies.

“People can order takeaway food at restaurants. Markets and shopping malls remain open to sell food and essential goods,” he said.

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Kurt | 23 March 2020 - 12:32:12

It is sad but logical that no thai officials dare to go any further than just 'soft' handling matters. They know not to be trusted by the people and are afraid for lose face when a hard lock down announcement will be ignored by the people. Thai people do it their way. Authority you have to deserve by serving and hard work, is not just given.

CaptainJack69 | 22 March 2020 - 19:17:32

Not sure what this pic. is supposed to show. Makro's hereon Phuket looks like that most of the time.

Kurt | 22 March 2020 - 13:10:30

1: Stop people travelling from Bangkok to country sides until after Songkran. Otherwise what you do now is useless.
2: Include at least Songkran in 'BKK soft lock down', otherwise what you do now is good for nothing. Anyway Thai authorities seem not to want understand that 'soft' will not work to get control over this Pandemic in Thailand. Why always that 'half-half' think...

 

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