Bangkok Orders Businesses to Close for 2 Weeks or Face Large Fines as COVID Cases Top 11K

Thailand's capital Bangkok ordered businesses to close for two weeks or face fines up to $3,040 on Monday as new COVID-19 cases topped 11,000, the Associated Press reported.

The new rules begin Tuesday but beauty parlors and barber shops can remain open at limited capacity. If businesses such as movie theaters, gyms and amusement parks do not abide by the new COVID-19 restrictions, those responsible could also face up to a year in prison. The new 11,784 cases brought Thailand's total up to 415,170 since the onset of the pandemic and health officials also announced 81 new deaths, adding to the country's total of 3,422.

The Southeast Asian nation is in the midst of a COVID-19 case surge since April as the city of Bangkok is one of the worst hit areas.

More than 90 percent of Thailand's infections and deaths have occurred since April. The virus' spread is causing the country's healthcare system to become increasingly strained with hospitals not having enough beds for patients.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below:

COVID-19 Patient in Thailand
The Thai capital of Bangkok ordered businesses to close for two weeks or face fines as COVID-19 cases in Thailand topped 11,000. In this photo, workers clad in PPE gear wheel a patient with COVID-19 symptoms to be brought to hospital from a village in Pattani on Monday, as Thailand seeks to contain a surge in COVID-19 cases. Tuwaedaniya Meringing/AFP via Getty Images

City officials in Bangkok ordered a range of establishments to close completely until further notice. They also include museums and swimming pools. Public parks can stay open until 8 p.m.

Restaurants have already been limited to takeout service since June 28.

Bangkok and other provinces that have been the most severely affected by the current virus surge, which includes ones neighboring the capital and three in the far south, already banned gatherings of more than five people, require residents to remain at home from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m., and forbid unnecessary travel.

Other provinces can set their own rules.

The sharp rise in cases has prompted the authorities to allow patients to isolate at home and in community centers and to give them access to antigen test kits that were previously limited to the medical community. The situation has been exacerbated by a shortage of vaccines that has resulted in only about 5 percent of the population being fully inoculated.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand has ordered a halt to all domestic flights operating from the most severely affected provinces effective Wednesday. Exceptions are allowed for flights to destinations that are part of a plan that allows vaccinated travelers from abroad to stay for two weeks on popular islands such as Phuket and Samui without quarantine confinement.

COVID-19 Vaccination in Thailand
Bangkok and other provinces have banned gatherings of more than five people. A health worker administers a dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at the Central Vaccination Center in Bangkok, Thailand, Thursday. Sakchai Lalit/AP Photo