Concerns raised over possible lockdown after Thailand detects first Omicron case
After the recent relaxation of COVID-19 related restrictions, sales have gradually improved in restaurants and other businesses, but they are warning that reintroducing harsh measures or lockdowns could severely affect the economy.
Chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) Supant Mongkolsuthree said he does not want to see panic over the emergence of Omicron in the country, leading to more lockdowns. If the borders were to be closed again, it would deeply impact the slowly improving economy, he said.
Keeping the borders open is the right choice, the FTI chairman said, adding that it is necessary to figure out how to live with the virus.
Supant welcomed the government’s promise that the Ministry of Public Health will keep watch over the situation.
President of the Thai restaurant Association Thaniwan Koonmongkon said that the sector has recovered by over 80%, or by 100% in popular places, compared to the situation during lockdown. It is estimated that restaurant sales could see a 100% recovery during the New Year holidays.
Owners of some restaurants, however, expressed concern that the government might put the country into another lockdown.
One told Thai PBS that he has a bar in Khaosan Road, which has remained closed to date. Trying to adapt and survive, the entrepreneur sought new opportunities by opening a restaurant, in compliance with the new normal but, only four days into the new business venture, the country reported its first case of the COVID-19 Omicron variant, he said.
While it remains uncertain how Omicron will affect the infection rate in the country, parts of the tourism sector are already feeling its impact.
Some Thai travellers have already booked trips abroad, but one tour agent told Thai PBS that, since Omicron started spreading in Europe, some of his customers have rescheduled or even cancelled their trips.