Thailand lowers COVID-19 threat, lifts emergency decree

Thailand lowers COVID-19 threat, lifts emergency decree

BANGKOK (AP) — The Thai government will lift an emergency decree it imposed in March 2020 to fight the coronavirus, officials said Friday, as it eases most pandemic restrictions.

From October 1, foreign visitors will no longer be required to show proof of vaccination and infected people will no longer need to self-quarantine.

The emergency decree, which has been repeatedly renewed despite opposition, will not be extended at the end of this month, officials said. The decree, which allowed the government to take measures such as curtailing movements, limiting crowd sizes and closing private establishments, has also been used against anti-government protesters.

“The general trend globally of the COVID situation is improving. The number of new cases is down and the number of deaths is down,” said Taweesin Visanuyothin, spokesperson for the government Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration. He said the center would also stop operations and be disbanded.

“At present, the public and businesses can live and advance economic activities,” Taweesin said.

He said the changes are a result of the Public Health Ministry’s downgrading of the status of COVID-19 from a dangerous communicable disease to an infectious disease under surveillance.

The center reported 752 new cases of COVID-19 and nine deaths on Friday. He said the percentage of hospital beds allocated to coronavirus patients that are occupied fell to 8.3% from 15.8% in July.

“We might have small waves after that. And we will ask the public to continue to practice general preventive measures, including continuing to wear masks in public,” although they are not mandatory, Taweesin said.

Thailand’s huge and lucrative tourism industry has been devastated by local and global measures aimed at containing the pandemic. So far this year it has seen arrivals rebound with 5.2 million visitors so far.

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