Thailand eyes lifting face mask requirement in 'safer' provinces

BANGKOK (The Nation/Asia News Network): The Public Health Ministry aims to ask the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) to do away with the mandatory face mask requirement in public places such as parks.

Dr Jakrat Phittayawong-anon, chief of the Department of Disease Control’s Epidemiology Bureau, said on Wednesday the Covid-19 situation in Thailand was improving, with decreasing daily infections and mortality, so this would be a suitable time to further ease disease control measures.

“The ministry is considering downgrading the Covid-19 warning level from the current level 3 to 2 soon to let people resume their lives as normal. We will ask the CCSA to allow people in certain areas and who are engaged in public activities to go without face masks,” he said.

Jakrat said that in the early phase of the no-mask measure, only people in non-high-risk groups would be allowed to take off their masks in areas such as public parks, and the measure will be implemented first in green and blue provinces.

“People in high-risk groups, such as the elderly aged over 60, those with chronic health problems and unvaccinated people will still be required to wear face masks and avoid visiting crowded areas,” he added.

A CCSA meeting last Friday approved the new colour coding of provinces from next month based on the Covid-19 situation.

Fourteen provinces have been added to the green or low-surveillance zone, namely Chai Nat, Phichit, Ang Thong, Nan, Maha Sarakham, Yasothon, Nakhon Phanom, Lampang, Amnat Charoen, Buriram, Trat, Surat Thani, Surin and Udon Thani.

Seventeen provinces will be classified as pilot tourism areas or blue zones – Bangkok, Krabi, Kanchanaburi, Chanthaburi, Chonburi, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Nakhon Ratchasima, Nonthaburi, Narathiwat, Pathum Thani, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Phang-nga, Phetchaburi, Phuket, Rayong and Songkhla.

The 46 other provinces will remain in the yellow or high-surveillance zone.

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