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Coronavirus

Bangkok ramps up measures to contain coronavirus spread

Shopping malls, department stores, leisure facilities to close from Sunday

Traditional Thai dancers in Bangkok on March 16. The city closed entertainment venues on March 21.   © Reuters

BANGKOK -- Bangkok will ramp up closures of commercial and leisure venues to contain the spread of COVID-19 disease as quickly as possible.

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration on Saturday ordered shopping malls and department stores in Bangkok to close from March 22 to April 12, according to local public television. Barbershops, spas, tattoo shops and spas have also been asked to close.

Leisure venues will not be available for the same period. Arcades, bowling alleys, golf courses, driving ranges, pools and amusement parks will be closed as well.

Restaurants have been ordered to only operate for takeout. "Fellow citizens, please do not panic, or hoard any items," Bangkok Gov. Aswin Kwanmuang urged residents. "I assure you, there will be adequate amounts of food and supplies for you to purchase."

The Thai government had already ordered educational institutions, convention centers, bars, movie theaters and sports stadiums in Bangkok to close until the end of March. The new order will extend their closures at least until April 12.

Thailand reported its largest daily increase in confirmed coronavirus cases on Saturday, when 89 new cases were found, bringing the total to 411. The total cases had quintupled in a week.

"I understand very well that exercising my authority to close down these facilities and places will result in an economic impact," Aswin said. "I ask everyone to put people's lives as the top priority ahead of everything else."

Separately on Friday, the Thai government asked its citizens to stay at home to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. "[Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha] has asked that people stay home. Before we make it an order, we are asking for cooperation," government spokesperson Narumon Pinyosinwat said. "After this, the situation will be evaluated if we don't receive cooperation."

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