Thailand’s capital announced a ban on indoor dining and gatherings of more than 20 people from Sunday, in addition to the closure of construction sites and the sealing off of workers’ quarters in Bangkok and nine other provinces.
The measures come amid a sharp rise in coronavirus cases and will remain in place for 30 days.
Thailand reported 3,995 confirmed infections and 42 deaths in the last 24 hours.
The numbers have doubled recently, with health officials blaming a lack of co-operation from migrant workers employed in construction and in factories.
Apisamai Srirangson, spokeswoman for the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration, said on Friday: “Camps were closed but workers sneaked out to markets and communities, and spread the disease.”
She added that “bubble and seal” disease control measures had proved successful within 28 days in handling clusters in Samut Sakhon province, south of Bangkok, but not in the capital.
The situation has become critical as the number of hospital beds in Bangkok for seriously ill coronavirus patients is running low despite the creation of several field hospitals.
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said on Friday that a proposal for a seven-day curfew for all of Bangkok has been rejected for the time being.
Under the new restrictions, construction workers will be isolated in camps in Bangkok and five neighbouring provinces, and in the country’s four southernmost provinces, all virus hotspots.
Department stores and shopping centres in Bangkok can stay open until 9pm, but restaurants are only allowed to serve food and drink to take away, and seminars, meetings and parties are cancelled.
If more clusters are discovered, the governor can seal off the affected communities.
Travellers from the 10 provinces, including Bangkok, will be isolated and quarantined.
Meanwhile, authorities, are planning to go ahead with a proposal to allow fully vaccinated foreign tourists to visit the southern resort island of Phuket without undergoing a 14-day quarantine period which is otherwise mandatory.
Thailand is anxious to begin the recovery of its lucrative tourism industry, which has been devastated by the pandemic and consequent travel restrictions.
Thailand has administered around 8.66 million vaccine doses, with around 9% of its 69 million people receiving at least one jab.
Critics have accused Mr Prayuth’s government of failing to secure timely and adequate vaccine supplies.
The prime minister has said Thailand now has agreements that will ensure enough vaccinations for about 70% of the population by the end of the year.