Thailand celebrates the New Year amid Omicron fears
Fireworks burst across the skies of Thailand last night (Friday), as several provinces celebrated the arrival of the New Year, amid fears of the spread of the COVID-19 Omicron variant.
Although the Thai government had asked for cooperation by cancelling countdown events, many prime locations across Bangkok, which had been granted prior permission from authorities, continued with their events, albeit with more stringent COVID-19 measures.
Bangkok’s “Iconsiam” shopping complex, one of the largest countdown events in the capital, saw a display of as many as30,000 fireworks along the Chao Phraya River, while a number of preventive measures were imposed, from sanitising the area to limiting the number of visitors. Visitors also had to show proof of their COVID-19 vaccinations and were tested with antigen tests before they entered the venue. Only those with event bracelets and tickets are allowed in.
Thailand’s resort island of Phuket also organised a countdown celebration, with more than 20,000 fireworks on display and a special performance by world famous opera singer Andrea Bocelli. The event also limited the number of visitors to only 3,000 and all visitors had to wear face masks at all times. Visitors, event staff members and performers had to have tested negative (either with antigen or RT-PCR tests) at least 72 hours before entering the venue.
Thailand’s northern province of Chiang Mai held its countdown celebrations at the Tha Phae Gate and at Royal Park Rajapruek, with a fireworks display. Many famous temples, such as Wat Phra Singh Woramahaviharn, organised Buddhist prayers into the New Year, while limiting the number of attendees to only 500 people, screening the worshippers and maintaining social distancing.
Meanwhile, Bangkok cancelled their New Year morning mass alms giving, to prevent the possible spread of COVID-19. Nonetheless, some Thais still came out this morning (Saturday) to make merit as an auspicious blessing for the New Year.