Thailand starts tighter coronavirus lockdown around capital

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Thailand implemented its toughest coronavirus restrictions in more than a year on Monday in Bangkok and surrounding provinces, with new curbs on movement and gatherings imposed and widespread suspensions by airlines and bus firms.

Authorities have urged people in and around Bangkok, the outbreak epicentre, to work from home and have set up 145 checkpoints in 10 high-risk provinces, including 88 in the capital, to try to curb non-essential regional travel.

The restrictions, initially for two weeks, aim to slow the spread of the coronavirus and include a curfew, mall closures and a five-person limit on gatherings, after a period of record or near-record deaths and cases.

Thailand recorded 8,656 infections and 80 deaths on Monday, among the 345,027 cases and 2,791 fatalities overall, the vast majority from an outbreak since early April that is being fueled by the highly transmissible Alpha and Delta COVID-19 variants.

Transport companies are adjusting services to comply with the measures and nighttime curfew hours, with reduced daytime public transport in and around Bangkok.

Thai AirAsia has suspended all domestic flights until July 31 while Bangkok Airways and Thai Airways subsidiary Thai Smile will offer reduced domestic flights.

Photo: EPA-EFE/DIEGO AZUBEL