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Gatherings prohibited due to Covid-19 before planned protests

Neill Fronde

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FILE PHOTO: Protests like this one in March have been banned to stop Covid-19 spread. (via Flickr Globovision)

For the safety of its citizens and to protect from the spread of Covid-19, the greater Bangkok area Covid-19 command centre has banned any activities or gatherings that involve more than 5 people. The ban on gatherings comes coincidentally just hours before planned mass anti-government protests in the capital, scheduled for today.

The ban went into effect for Bangkok, Samut Sakhon, Samut Prakan, Pathum Thani, Nonthaburi, and Nakhon Pathom immediately. In a briefing yesterday, the government threatened tighter lockdown restrictions coming as Covid-19 infections surge and hundreds of people were caught breaking curfew and ignoring restrictions.

General Charlempol Srisawat is responsible for security-related issues involving Covid-19 and was the one to impose the ban on gatherings that would make it illegal for protests to take place that demonstrators planned this weekend as they have over the past several weekends. Those who violate the order are breaking the Communicable Disease Act and the Covid-19 Emergency Decree and can face fines of up to 40,000 baht plus possibly being sentenced to a jail term of up to 2 years.

In the dark red zone provinces (Bangkok and the 5 listed above, plus the Deep South provinces of Narathiwat, Pattani, Songkhla, and Yala) all meetings, parties and festivals are banned except for already-planned traditional ceremonies. Red zone provinces and orange zone provinces have a more vague restriction that bans activities and gatherings that are considered at-risk without prior approval from government authorities.

But with some unique wording, the new gathering ban had some national blanket rules that prohibit any activity like protests that risks spreading disease or aims to intentionally spread Covid-19. It also contains a troubling clause published in the Royal Gazette that bans activities that “aggravate people’s troubles” which could be open to interpretation.

With rising Covid-19 infections, PM Prayut Chan-o-cha has also threatened last night that if people disobey restrictions and Covid-19 keeps spreading, stronger measures could be implemented. Those could be things like mandatory working from home and stronger restrictions on movements around the provinces and beyond which are now only strongly recommended against.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10 years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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