On Friday (7th January), the CCSA General Meeting again adjusted the zoning categories for disease control measures, effective from 9th January. With this update, all 69 provinces in Thailand are categorised as a controlled orange zone; that is, unless they are in designated tourism/sandbox areas (blue zones) or provinces.
This means no more red, dark red, green or any other colour, the vast majority of Thailand is orange, with multiple Blue Zones appearing, sometimes complete provinces, but more often much smaller selected centres.
In our region, the blue zones are the Cha-Am municipality in Phetchaburi Province and the adjoining Hua Hin and Nong Khae districts of Prachuap Khiri Khan Province.
Apart from substantial tourism attractions such as the majority of local golf courses and the Monsoon Valley Vineyard, regional centres such as Phetchaburi and Prachuap Khiri Khan cities and Pranburi haven’t made the cut. Tourism is apparently not rated highly enough in these places.
The service of alcohol in blue zones is allowed both in restaurants but also in bars and pubs (referred to as ‘temporary restaurants’), but only until 9 PM from 16th January.
These venues are required to strictly exercise the COVID-free setting measure with final approval still needed by the provincial authority before 15th January.
These premises must first receive SHA plus certification and all staff members must be fully vaccinated and undergo rapid antigen tests for Covid-19 every three days.
It’s hard to imagine how small family businesses can meet these prescribed conditions or without receiving any official notice, even know what has been the latest dictate. Inevitably (once again), some will choose just to ignore restrictions (at their peril) or interpret what is spread in social media posts.
Reputable news sources are also struggling to understand the rules as they try to report the status quo as accurate and complete information.
More corporate operators may know the rules, but forward planning for their staffing needs or promoting events/entertainment has become mission impossible.
The result is total confusion for all concerned, including travelling tourists.