What the Emergency Decree likely extending another month means-and what it does not

Thailand-

The Emergency Decree to control the Covid-19 Coronavirus is likely to be extended another month, according to the Center for Covid19 Situation Administration and the National Security Council.

The final decision, which is nearly certain to be approved, is scheduled for a Thai Cabinet meeting on Tuesday of next week.

The extension has caused a lot of confusion on social media and we wanted to address that in an article and answer some basic questions for our readers.

Q: Does extending the Decree mean everything closed now stays closed and curfew stays exactly the same?

A: No. In fact, the Government has said extending the decree is to support the reopening of businesses in the high risk category. Without the decree, there is not a single agency responsible for ensuring the process of re-opening is smooth. Two Phases remain in re-opening businesses and both contain the riskiest (But arguably the most popular entertainment wise) businesses, according to the CCSA, which have venues like nightclubs, bars and massage shops.

Q. What about the curfew? Will it stay in place?

A. Likely, at least at first. Keep in mind, under the emergency decree, the Thai Government can adjust or change rules, such as curfew, at any time. Without the decree, a curfew would actually not be allowed under Thai law. The concern from Government officials is that if they got rid of the decree all at once people would throw parties or organize private gatherings. Banning gatherings, legally, can only be done under the decree. Otherwise the police would have no actual power to arrest or detain those who held house parties and other currently banned gatherings that they believe could possibly spread the virus. With the closure of all entertainment venues, the fear of these events taking place is high. Additionally, when/if they allow nightlife venues to open they will likely want to closely control the timeframe. The curfew is, however, likely to be loosened some.

Q. Will domestic travel still be discouraged and will I have to do a quarantine if I go to a different province?

A. For the most part, probably not. Many provinces have started to announce domestic tourism attractions and hotels re-opening at the end of this month and in early June. This includes a major tourist attraction in our own province. Provinces that have had ongoing Covid-19 issues (primarily in the Deep South of Thailand) will likely still have domestic travel restrictions. For the most part, Thailand is hoping to relaunch some domestic tourism as early as next month and has said so several times, which means travel will be more opened up.

Q. Will Pattaya area beaches open?

A. Probably. The Chonburi Communicable Disease Committee has said several times it looks to re-open beaches in early June, currently keeping them closed as part of the overall government plan to “discourage” inter province travel. This is, by no means, a guarantee as concerns over social distancing on the beach remain, but it is highly probable.

Q. Will Chonburi Hotels legally open?

A. Probably. See above. Chonburi has had no cases of Covid-19 in about a month and is likely to allow hotels to open, if they choose too. Some other provinces and places, like Hua Hin, have already opened. (Including beaches.)

Q. Will the strict fines and jail time still be in place?

A. Yes. As part of the deterrent, fines of up to 100,000 baht and 2 years in jail, that some consider draconian, will remain for those who violate the rules surrounding the emergency decree.

Q. Will gatherings be banned?

A. Almost certainly. It is possible that the Thai Government may put a number limit on allowed gatherings (Currently, there is no limit, meaning that even two people drinking together in public can be considered a gathering) but a key part of the plan is to prevent private parties and gatherings to prevent the possible spread of the virus until the government feels the virus is eliminated.

Q. Will borders be opened so I can fly/walk/drive/swim back in?

A. No. Borders remain closed until at least the end of June currently, and are highly likely to be extended. Thailand is still working on bringing back thousands of Thai’s in a slow repatriation process. It is taking time because every single person who comes back is required to go through state quarantine for fourteen days. It is highly unlikely that foreigners are allowed to come back in the short run of a few months and even then will probably require insurance, a negative covid-19 test and a quarantine period, likely self financed.

Q. Will bars/nightlife/massage/amusement parks/tattoo shops etc. legally open in June?

A. Probably, although rules will be significantly different and likely VERY strict.

See more on opening of Phase Three and Four venues here.

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