English News


Bangkok cancels New Year countdown events as Thailand witnesses an Omicron surge

A man wearing a protective mask takes a selfie in a shopping mall in Bangkok (File image: ANI)

Worried Thailand health authorities have sprung into action after the total number of Omicron cases in the country rose to 205 on Friday.  

Amid rumours of another lockdown in the New Year, Thailand's Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said today that even though the government has not planned any such action, it has instructed its provincial health offices to monitor the 2022 countdown celebrations.
The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) has also announced cancellation of its New Year countdown event and prayer ceremony at Lan Khon Meaung town square and more than 50 district offices on the night of December 31 and January 1 due to concerns over the Omicron Covid-19 variant.

Thai PBS World, the online English news website of the Thai Public Broadcasting Service, quoted Deputy Bangkok Governor Kriangyos Sudlabha as saying that the cancellation is in line with the World Health Organisation’s appeal for the cancellation of New Year festivities worldwide.

"The activities being organised by the private sector, such as the countdown events at Central World and Icon Siam shopping malls, which have already been approved by the BMA, will depend on their management for a decision on whether to proceed," the website reported.

As reported by IndiaNarrative.com earlier this month, Thailand, a favourite tourist destination for Indians, is already bearing the brunt of Covid-19 with its tourism sector coming to a near halt.

Despite Thailand opening its door to international tourists, passengers on international flights to the Southeast Asian country dropped by 95 per cent in September 2021, compared to the previous year. Hotels, in turn, only filled 9 percent of their rooms, a McKinsey study said, adding that Bangkok’s tourism sector could only recover to the pre-crisis levels by 2024.

The tourism sector is of critical importance for Thailand. It created 36 million jobs between 2014 and 2019, the study said.

Also read: Covid wrecking Thailand's tourism industry–major drop in travellers from China, India and Japan