After over two-and-a-half-years an era that for many people was deeply unpleasant and life changing will come to an end in Thailand.
After today, September 30th, the emergency decree in place to control Covid-19, which came into effect in March of 2020, will be eliminated. Additionally, the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration or CCSA that handled the rules and regulations during the Covid era and centralized all administration will be dissolved.
Nearly all remaining Covid measures, such as random checks to see if someone is vaccinated or has covid on entering Thailand are dropped. Yes, masks are still being recommended and some venues and services based on the business may still require them but the mandate has been dropped for months and it’s mostly a personal decision now if someone wishes to wear a mask.
The duties of the CCSA will be moved to the Ministry of Public Health which has also downgraded Covid-19 to a disease being monitored, similar to many regularly occuring sicknesses and diseases in Thailand. In a sign of changing times even some Thai media has stopped publishing daily Covid-19 statistics, English language media, including us, in Thailand mostly stopped months ago after continued negative feedback from readers.
Covid isn’t over of course, in fact cases are rising in some parts of the world, and is still a real threat especially to those who are vulnerable or elderly but Thailand has clearly made the decision to move forward and fully engage the shattered tourism industry in particular, understanding that Covid will likely always be with us. A quick look on Twitter shows that not everyone agrees with decisions to lower precautions however, which is to be understood.
The last over two years was for many people a miserable time. Pattaya and Phuket in particular saw almost all of their economy on pause for much of the entire pandemic as it is nearly entirely reliant on tourism. Lines of thousands of people in charity lines for food during the height of the closures of nearly every business except essential grocers and markets last year will haunt many peoples memories for along time to come.
That being said, we also wanted to say that the CCSA in particular, especially Dr. Taweesin Visanuyothin and Natapanu Bangkok (on Twitter) kept the public informed and aware throughout the pandemic and were also intensely aware of the impact their decisions were making, with Dr. Taweesin on a number of occasions showing true emotion and empathy on camera to those whose businesses and livelihoods were shut down by covid restrictions and mandates. Many have thanked them for their hard work in a mostly thankless job, and we do as well.
There will be more challenges and more hurdles in the future, but for now let’s bid farewell to the emergency decree era and see what the future holds. The emergency decree was constantly a polarizing item, with critics saying it was being used to silence protests and anti-government activists. The government, however, strictly maintained their viewpoint that it was needed to control the Covid-19 pandemic only. Regardless of one’s personal opinion on the decree, it is finally laid to a close tonight.
Here is to the future, no matter what it might bring.
Adam Judd, TPN