On a daily basis, it seems more and more provinces and areas in Thailand are requiring mask mandates-essentially, one must wear a mask at all times when out of their own home, even when driving in a car with more than one person.
Bangkok officially started the mask mandate today, April 26th, and it has already led to confusion and questions on social media. Chonburi, home of Pattaya, and many of our readers have had the mask mandate technically since last year but has only started enforcing it again recently.
The language for the orders is pretty simple-you must wear a mask outside of your home or face a fine of up to 20,000 baht. That’s it, in terms of the order, no buts, no exceptions, no caveats, etc. You could even also get fined with additional charges, such as violating the emergency decree or communicable disease control act, according to law enforcement and the severity of the situation in terms of potentially spreading the Covid-19 coronavirus.
Bangkok law enforcement clarified today that even if you are driving in a closed car with members of your own family you must wear a mask unless the member is two years old or younger. There have been multiple reports of people alone on a motorbike or stopped alone at a vehicle/covid-19 checkpoint also charged for not wearing a mask in other provinces. Bangkok stated that someone driving alone in a car does not need to wear a mask but that may not be the case in every province and especially if stopped at a checkpoint.
There is no “official” exception for exercising without a mask, contrary to belief, although some individual doctors have stated that one shouldn’t wear a mask when running, biking, etc. Going for a walk, even alone, and claiming to officers that you are “exercising” and shouldn’t have to wear a mask is also not officially an exception and officers can still charge you at their discretion. Obviously, if one is eating in a restaurant they won’t be asked to wear a mask but some comments on social media have reported that people are being asked to wear one while walking between tables, to the restroom, etc.
We have seen sent to The Pattaya News this afternoon several mask fines from readers. Some claimed they were “wearing” the mask under their chin and offered to pull it up when police saw them but were still fined. We would advise people to use caution at this time and when in doubt, wear a mask. Fines can be up to 20,000 baht as stated but can also be as low as 500 baht. Police have “discretion” on the amount of the fine, reportedly. According to law enforcement, properly wearing a mask is over your nose and mouth.
Tickets should be given for fines for masks, you shouldn’t be asked to pay on the spot and can demand a copy of the ticket and to go to the police station if in doubt.
We have also been asked about medical exceptions, we would advise one to check with their doctors or local hospital on this and if they are able to grant paperwork and proof of a medical exception for a health condition.
For now, masks are required, even walking alone outside, in Pattaya, Bangkok, and an increasing number of other provinces. Bangkok City officials even ordered that news broadcasters wear masks on camera as they are sharing rooms with other people and because it “sets” a good example, despite being more difficult to hear people speak.