His warning was issued after fans thronged Paragon Cineplex on Friday evening for a promotional meet-and-greet event with Anan “Ying” Wong and Wanarat “War” Ratsameerat. The acting duo have appeared together in many TV series, with En of Love the latest.
Photos on social media showed fans of the duo tightly packed together to take photos with their idols wihout regard for social distancing rules.
Defence Forces chief Pornpipat Benyasri said all businesses must comply with the rules on screening visitors and enforcing social distancing standards to prevent the comeback of the virus, according to Maj Gen Theerapong Patamasing Na Ayutthaya, the Royal Thai Armed Forces spokesman.
Any businesses violating the measures will face the maximum legal penalty, added Gen Pornpipat, who is in charge of security for the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA).
Siam Piwat Co, the operator of Siam Paragon, on Saturday ordered the cinema complex in the shopping centre to close for three days from Sunday to improve safety and health measures for moviegoers in the wake of the incident. It also apologised for the “inappropriate” use of the space, resulting in safety rules set by the company being ignored.
The theatres at Siam Paragon are owned by Major Group, which rents the space from Siam Piwat. Major Group, a listed company on the Stock Exchange of Thailand, posted a Facebook message apologising for the event and saying it placed great importance on the welfare of moviegoers.
Cinemas are among the mild-risk businesses allowed to reopen on June 1 after a decline of new coronavirus patients and deaths in the country. But they have been ordered to maintain safety measures as the restrictions are eased.
The CCSA plans to open higher-risk businesses such as daycare service centres and nightclubs in the next stage, providing COVID-19 numbers remain low.
Beachgoers put mayor on alert
Elsewhere, the mayor of Muang Saen Suk municipality in Chon Buri yesterday warned that Bang Saen beach could face another closure if tourists fail to comply with safety measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 infections.
Narongchai Khunplome posted the warning on Facebook, saying if visitors heading to Bang Saen let their guard drop, the government may order the closure of the beach again.
The popular beach reopened on June 1. However, the government is highly concerned about the possibility of a second wave of COVID-19 infections if people do not strictly comply with safety measures.
Mr Narongchai posted his information after seeing crowds flock to the beach yesterday, with many people failing to observe social distancing etiquette.
“If tourists continue to violate health measures, closure can be enforced once again,” he said.
Crowds were also spotted on Bali Hai Pier waiting for the Koh Larn ferry in Pattaya as officers took temperatures and recorded the names of tourists or asked them to register at the Thai Chana website.
Beaches far away from Bangkok, such as Koh Phi Phi island in Krabi, however, remain deserted and the piers were free from overcrowding as domestic tourism is yet to see people venture far from Bangkok while the emergency decree and curfew remain in place.
Meanwhile, the government yesterday reported eight new coronavirus cases and no new deaths, taking the accumulated totals in Thailand to 3,112 infections and 58 deaths since the outbreak began in January.
The new cases were returnees – five from the United Arab Emirates, two from Kuwait and one from India – and were in quarantine, where most of Thailand’s recent cases have been detected, said Panprapa Yongtrakul, an assistant spokeswoman for the government’s COVID-19 Administration Centre.
Thailand could mark 14 days without a single new locally-transmitted case today, but Dr Panprapa called for no complacency, saying a domestic elimination of the virus cannot officially be claimed until 28 days have passed with no new cases.
The CCSA is preparing to introduce guidelines for high-risk businesses such as daycare centres and nightlife venues such as pubs which are scheduled to reopening in the next stage of the progressive easing of COVID-19 control measures.