By Panarat Thepgumpanat and Panu Wongcha-um
BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thailand announced tighter restrictions in the capital Bangkok and nine provinces on Friday in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus, including travel curbs, mall closures, a curfew and limits on the size of gatherings.
Some measures will take effect from Saturday, others from Monday, and come as Thailand reported one of its highest daily infection tallies at 9,276, with 72 new deaths, amid a battle against its longest-running and most severe outbreak so far.
“In the 10 provinces there will be restrictions on unnecessary travel and people cannot leave their home between 9 p.m. and 4 a.m. unless necessary,” Apisamai Srirangsan, spokeswoman for the government’s COVID-19 taskforce told a televised news briefing.
The announcement confirmed information provided earlier to Reuters by two government sources.
Malls, beauty clinics, spas and massage shops in Bangkok and five surrounding provinces must close from Monday, while COVID-19 testing facilities will be expanded to better detect and isolate clusters, Apisamai said.
Gatherings will be capped at five people, although there will be some exceptions. The government also discouraged inter-provincial travel.
Thailand on Friday took delivery of AstraZeneca vaccines donated by Japan.
Apisamai said the AstraZeneca vaccine and that of Pfizer and BioNTech would be used for elderly people and those with medical complications, plus foreign residents over 60, diplomats and athletes competing overseas.
She also said medical personal would be offered Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA booster shots.
Most Thai medical workers were administered the vaccine of China’s Sinovac, which some experts say may be less effective against more transmissible coronavirus variants.
(Reporting by Panarat Thepgumpanat Panu Wongcha-um; Editing by Martin Petty)