The Thai Prime Minister, Prayut Chan-O-Cha, responded yesterday to growing pressure and criticism from business owners, the tourism industry, online discussion and Thai citizens around loosening further restrictions and allowing more businesses to open and lift all restrictions earlier put in place around Covid19.
The criticism comes as Thailand enters weeks of mostly imported cases, nine days countrywide of no reported locally spread cases, tight border control and over 65 provinces with no recorded cases in over a month. Pattaya City will reach sixty days without a single recorded case tomorrow. Some provinces have never had a single case, yet remain under the same closure and rule restrictions as the rest of the country.
This comes as entertainment, hospitality and alcohol industry heavyweights have been putting increasing pressure on the government to release the closure order on the bar and nightlife industry and lift the curfew, allowing millions to return to work across the country. Prominent members of the restaurant industry have also stated the ban on selling alcohol at restaurants has caused a severe loss of profits and customers and many venues will not open unless the order is reversed. The tourism industry has said the push for domestic tourism will not succeed unless the entertainment venues are also open.
Meanwhile, prominent members of the government’s Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration, such as the deputy director-general of the Department for Disease Control, have asked the government to delay the opening of closed businesses that the CCSA sees as high risk even further and move schools ahead of them.
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The Prime Minister asked for patience and stated to the public that while he understood the pain and suffering of the many still unemployed Thailand had only accomplished its work around Covid19 by moving slowly and cautiously and not rushing.
Prayut said that if the government rushed and had to have another lockdown it would be catastrophic for not only business owners and citizens but the country.
The CCSA originally announced a four phase plan to reopen the country and unlock all businesses, with the riskiest venues scheduled for the last Phase. The plan consisted of new unlocking every two weeks. The country recently entered Phase Three this past Monday which, if the situation stays stable, would mean the final phase would come mid month.
However, the recent statements from the DDC of proposing to delay entertainment venues until after schools open, currently schedule for July first, caused more criticism online and accusations of “moving the goal posts”.
The Prime Minister has urged all sides to stay calm and patient and understand that the work being down was in the best interest of the country.
It is not expected that any announcements on the potential phase four will come before mid next week, the PM added.