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Most Thais voluntarily using face masks despite lifting of mandate

BANGKOK: Despite lifting the mask mandate on Thursday, Prime Minister, Prayut Chan-0-cha is happy that most Thais are voluntarily using masks for protection against Covid-19.

Reports in Bangkok Post quoted government spokesman, Thanakorn Wongboonkongchana who said the prime minister had earlier expressed concern as Covid-19 infection risks still remained.

However, the Department of Disease Control (DDC) recommends that people with underlying conditions, the elderly and pregnant women who have yet to get Covid-19 boosters keep wearing masks.

Those who are healthy can discard the mask when alone, exercising, eating, drinking or in an open space where social distancing can be practised, said the DDC.

Thailand on Saturday recorded 2,236 new Covid-19 infections and 16 deaths.

Education Minister Trinuch Thienthong, meanwhile, says masks are still required at education institutions, except when attending outdoor activities.

The ministry is concerned about children who are too young to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

However, Bangkok governor Chadchart Sittipunt showed that people can now take off their masks in open spaces by doing his morning run at Lumpini Park without one.

Since the government lifted the mask mandate, people can now go mask-free outside while staying one metre away from others, Chadchart told the media after his daily jog.

People can simply keep their masks with them and only put them on when meeting others, he said.

"The law has changed, but we shouldn't take the situation for granted as the Omicron variant remains active," he said.

On Friday, one day after the national mask mandate was lifted, Chadchart signed an announcement making mask-wearing in open spaces a personal choice.

As the Covid-19 situation has gradually improved, restrictive measures have started to ease to enable people to resume economic activities.

According to The Post, to drive the economy while easing inter-provincial travel, the government has come up with plans to ensure Thailand's readiness in the post-pandemic phase.

Migrant workers are now able to work across the capital under certain regulations.

In addition, the legal hours for the sale of alcohol at restaurants and entertainment venues have been extended to 2am as approved by a recent Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) meeting.

Other businesses, such as barber shops, beauty salons, nail salons, massage parlours, tattoo shops, gyms, theatres, folk shows and saunas are allowed to operate under disease control measures, the CCSA said. Activities with large gatherings of people, like sports tournaments, require permission from district offices, it said.

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