The Prime Minister, Prayut Chan-O-Cha, has rebuffed social media posts from Thai Deputy Public Health Minister Satit Pitutecha in which he claimed a proposal on travel restrictions, referred to some as a lockdown, was approved by the Prime Minister last night, thanking him for the decision.
We reported on this here but were careful to call them possible measures and restrictions and avoid the term lockdown as the Thai government continues to insist not to use the word. The Pattaya News notes, however, that even some government-owned media used the word lockdown as did the Deputy Public Health Minister himself.
Following multiple statements from public officials this morning trying to correct course, the message is quite clear: There is no LOCKDOWN. There is no travel ban. However, you are highly discouraged from travel and measures may take place to discourage you, such as road checkpoints. If it is not urgent, stay home if you are in the five highest risk provinces, especially in terms of inter-provincial travel. But you are not banned from doing so.
There will be increased road screening points with Chonburi and the Pattaya area already implementing many, including in Central Pattaya on Sukhumvit. These are not “hard ban” checkpoints, as one can travel through them but may have to go through temperature checks, determine the necessity of their travel or provide identification/legal status for foreigners. In Chonburi, officials have stated that they are looking for potential illegal migrants being transported through the province so minivans, full pickup trucks, and other types of transportation are being randomly selected to be inspected.
Chon Buri, Rayong, Chanthaburi, and Trat, along with Samut Sakhon, will be subject to the strictest regulations and control measures and classified as a new, highest category of restrictions, according to Dr. Taweesin Visanuyothin. However, he also stressed it is NOT a lockdown and there was not a strict travel ban but did state there would be additional inconvenience and checkpoints in the affected area. Dr. Taweesin also said that although it wasn’t a lockdown or a ban, the major message for people in the five provinces was to stay home unless it was urgent or absolutely needed to travel.
The Pattaya News will continue to provide updates on this as they are released.