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Misery as arrival ban keeps families apart

Jack Burton

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Misery as arrival ban keeps families apart | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Facebook
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Thailand’s ban on foreign arrivals is causing misery among families across the nation as foreigners married to Thai nationals plead with the government to let them return to be with their families.

James Jacobs, a Briton stranded in France, told Nation Thailand he wants to return to his 29 year old wife Sopa, who lives in Chiang Mai. Speaking by phone, Sopa said her husband has been stranded in France since Thailand stopped all incoming flights in April for fear of imported Covid-19 infections. She says she can only keep in touch with him online.

Alan Cheetham, another Briton who is stranded in the UK, says he wants to get back to his family in the northeastern Udon Thani province. He created a Facebook page called “Thai Expats Stranded Overseas due to Covid-19 Travel Restrictions” last week. More than 450 people who are in the same situation have already joined. Together with a second page, “Farangs Stranded Abroad due to Lockdown in Thailand,” with 397 members as of today, they share information as part of their efforts to reunite families.

Trapped in Ireland, Michael O’Halloran says he wants to be with his 3 daughters, aged 13, nine and 20 months, now living with his wife in Chon Buri.

Alan Edwards, another expat who is in a similar predicament, says it’s unfair that families are being kept apart during the crisis just because one of the spouses is not Thai.

“I understand that in these difficult times, many difficult decisions have to be made by the Thai government, but does the prejudice against Thai/foreigner families have to go on for so long? How is it fair that Thai people and children must be without a loved one or a parent because they are not Thai?”

Rob Kennedy, who belongs to “Farangs Stranded Abroad due to Lockdown in Thailand,” is trapped in Brunei, and says the Thai embassy there is helpful, but officials in Bangkok are showing little interest in his case. He says he’s willing to pay for quarantine if he’s allowed to return.

Another expat who has a family in the southern resort city of Phuket, speaking on condition of anonymity, says he left Phuket in March and now cannot return. He has a four year old son who has a medical condition.

“Mam,” a Chiang Mai woman who didn’t wish to give her real name, told Nation Thailand that her husband has been stranded in Canada for months.

“My two year old girl often asks, ‘where is Daddy’?”

The Thaiger has received a number of emails along the same lines, pleading for access back to the country to reunite with family and relatives in the Kingdom. The Thaiger has referred them to the Thai embassies in the countries they’re currently living in.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand banned all incoming passenger flights on April 4 and has extended the ban several times. The latest extension is until June 30.

The government says it is worried about importing new Covid-19 cases as the rate of infections is still pretty high in many countries, while here it has dropped to single digit increases for more than a week.

Authorities are letting Thai nationals stranded abroad return home in limited numbers, based on the capacity of state quarantine facilities and hospitals.

Recently, the government decided to have hotels and hospitals work together on quarantine facilities that can accommodate people who want to be comfortable and are willing to pay for it. This model may also apply to foreign tourists.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Peter madzell

    May 23, 2020 at 2:20 pm

    Hi yes there are many westerners who are unable to return to thailand I returned to Aust from thailand at the end Feb leaving my wife in buriram I cannot leave aust at the moment but I hope once the flight ban into thailand is lifted I can return I do not think
    The bans are the result of any malice to any particular country but a responsible action
    By the thai govt to curb this virus the travel
    Bans from are more worrying I hope common sense will prevail soon

    • Avatar

      stephen mathias

      May 23, 2020 at 9:05 pm

      Yeah i live in Phuket and work in Africa. I left on 25th February and cannot get back to Thailand now. Understandable that they don’t want to risk people coming in from heavily infected countries. I hope they will open the borders again in July but i fear they will impose a 2 week quarantine. I work 5 weeks and then get 3 weeks off and spending 2 of the 3 weeks in quarantine is not appealing. One week with my wife and then back to work….

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Thailand may hold a July Songkran event if Covid-19 situation remains stable

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Thailand may hold a July Songkran event if Covid-19 situation remains stable | The Thaiger

Thai citizens are being dangled a carrot – the chance to celebrate Songkran in July. Usually the annual water festival, traditionally the end of the dry season and the start of the wet season, is held on April 13. The event has become a big tourist magnet over the past decade as it’s morphed from traditional Buddhist festival into organised water fights in the streets of Bangkok and tourist towns.

This year it was cancelled as the country was busy being not busy; locked down in their homes instead of outside splashing water everywhere. But the government says they may still hold a Songkran festival in July instead IF the third phase of the easing of lockdown restrictions goes smoothly this month.

‘Phase 3’ started rolling out yesterday and opens up just about everything excepting bars and pubs, and some other entertainment venues. 16 business types and leisure activities resumed yesterday. The curfew has also been reduced to 11pm to 3am daily.

Phuket seems to be trailing behind the rest of the country with a ban on its beaches and airport still in place.

CCSA spokesman Dr. Taweesin Visanuyothin says the Government might declare special public holidays in July to celebrate Songkran. The festival, apart from all the water splashing, is the biggest family get-together of the year when people head back ‘up country’ for large family celebrations. The festival is also the most dangerous time on Thailand’s roads each year.

Dr. Taweesin says the CCSA will assess the results of phase three relaxations this month, adding that…”if the Covid-19 situation improves satisfactorily and people strictly observe the basic guidelines of social distancing, regular hand washing and face mask wearing, it might ask the Government to declare special public holidays in July”.

We’re not sure what “improves satisfactorily” means given that there have no recorded local transmutations of Covid-19 for over a week. All the latest cases are from Thais repatriating on specially organised charter flights from overseas whereby all arrivals must spend 14 days in supervised quarantine.

There is still a state of emergency in effect until at least the end of the June which provides Thai PM Prayut and his appointed committee in the CCSA sweeping powers to address the Covid-19 situation in Thailand without consulting parliament.

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Another family kept apart by Thai red tape and quarantine confusion

The Thaiger

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Another family kept apart by Thai red tape and quarantine confusion | The Thaiger

Sometimes you cross all the T’s and dot all the I’s and it’s still not enough to satisfy the paper-pushers, especially at this disruptive time in Thailand, and everywhere else. One Australian father has ended up separated from his family – he’s in Australia and his wife and 2 children are in Thailand being shuffled around Phuket and Bangkok in a Thai paperwork nightmare. Sam Kelly wants his family onto a repatriation flight being organised by the Australian Embassy out of Bangkok on June 6. For now, for reasons not immediately apparent, that’s not going to happen.

“I just want to get my family out of quarantine and onto this flight. I understand that this is not normal circumstances. But the facts are: The Thai and Australian governments have put on this flight to repatriate citizens to Australia. The Thais and the Australians have already shown they can be flexible, but now it looks as though my family might miss this flight. They have been tested and are Covid-19 free.”

The full story of Sam and his family’s plight is below. But Sam is grateful for the help from Australian consular officials up to now.

“I want to thank all the Australian consular staff in Bangkok and Canberra that have been helping me. You have been a great help in a very difficult situation.”

Sam’s story is one among thousands of families separated by the lockdowns and border closures in Thailand, and around the world. The Thaiger believes Sam’s wife and kids, and similar families, should be put on the top of the list of repatriation efforts when bans are lifted and flights resume.

The Thaiger hopes cooler-heads prevail in this case and that Sam, Kanny, Ronny and Adam are back together again soon.

Here is the full unedited text from Sam…


Help me get my family to Australia.

I’m one of the many offshore workers around the world that have been prevented from re uniting with their families

My base is in Phuket Thailand and has been for the last 15 years, I have a wife and 2 children. My wife’s name is Kannika “Kanny” Polngam who is a Thai national and my 2 kids Ronald “Ronny” Kelly (2) and Adam Kelly (5), who are dual Thai and Australian citizens with passports.

On the 12th of February I left Phuket to go on a 4 week on 4 week off rotation. I saw the situation regarding Covid-19 was deteriorating, so I started the process of getting my family out to Australia. I chose to stay here in Australia, so I was available for work, and still be able to provide for my family.

On the 5th of March my kids were taken out of school in Phuket and very strict curfews were imposed to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic.

Flights in and out of Thailand all but stopped with the occasional charter/repatriation flight going out of Bangkok to a few different airports in Australia. I managed to secure a flight on only one of 2 flights from Thailand to Australia for the whole month of June. I spoke with Australian consular officials in Bangkok on the phone and was told that it was a good idea to get the family up to Bangkok in case they needed to do more paperwork, etc.

On around the 19th of May, I told Kanny to just lock the house up, throw away anything we don’t need, just pack a few bags and drive off the island, stay with her parents in Bangkok and wait for the flight. She obtained permission from the Wichit Police Department in Phuket Town to leave the island and drive to make the long 12 hour drive to Bangkok. After being granted permission to get off the island my family was stopped at a Surathani checkpoint which is a few hours north of Phuket and directed to drive directly to:

Queen Sirikit Stadium
Klong 6, Tanyaburi, Pathumthani, Bangkok

When they arrived on the 21st of May they were all locked into a very small apartment that was once student housing at a university.

Kanny contacted the authorities and started to make noise. Everyone in my family has been self isolated for months. The kids actually had more people from the schools and government checking on their welfare in our Phuket house than in this little state sanctioned Bangkok student accommodation. No Thais authorities are checking on their welfare now, they just get a few bags of food thrown on their doorstop every day.

After Kanny made some noise the Thai authorities came and did a Covid-19 check on everyone. The results came back negative the next day and it was agreed that they would all be released and go to my mother and father in laws house nearby in Bangkok.

Now today it is Friday, my wife just got a phone call and one of the head honchos there by the name of Mr Boonlert, he has decided to revoke what he promised which was them being released into self isolation. The date that they will be released now is the 6th of June. This is one day after this flight leaves from Bangkok to Brisbane.

Another family kept apart by Thai red tape and quarantine confusion | News by The ThaigerAnother family kept apart by Thai red tape and quarantine confusion | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: Kannika and the two boys are removed from the self-isolation they had been granted and returned to state quarantine – khaosod.co.th

During this time the Australian Consulate and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade have been in touch with me stating, they cannot issue a ticket for my family to fly to Australia on this special flight until the family are out of quarantine. The Thai authorities have quite happily let people transit through Bangkok who have tickets out of Thailand, but as the Thai authorities have my family in detention, the Australians authorities will not issue a ticket to fly out.

So I am stuck between a rock and a hard place, my family has:

• Been in self isolation for months
• Been checked regularly by the Thai government and their school teachers doing home visits during the time schools closed on the 5th of March
• Have attended regular doctors appointments, including a health screen for my wife to apply for an Australian visa
• Have been in enforced state quarantine for over a week now and passed a Covid-19 test which was a horrible experience for them
• Look like they might miss one of the last flights back to Australia due to this Thai state quarantine period and if by some miracle they make the flight, they have the absolute joy of doing another 2 week quarantine in a hotel in Australia

Thousands of people have travelled to Bangkok from Phuket and none of them have been quarantined, the quarantine is actually a DISCRETION. There has been Australians being repatriated from Phuket, and they have been able to travel hassle free to Bangkok and wait for their flights out. Why are my kids the only Australians that have been locked up? I’m having serious concerns about their mental health at the moment.

All I want is the best for my kids, and neither the Australian or Thai public servants are providing that now.

These boys have not played with another kid or seen a blade of grass since the 5th of March, that means that if they went to Australia, it would be over 3 and a half months by the time they finished their last isolation period.

I have paid taxes in both countries for many years. I want some sort of communication between the Thai authorities and the Australian authorities.

Why are these Australian children being detained? They don’t have Covid-19 and they need to get out of quarantine to get back to Australia on the 5th of June.

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Government outlines new rules as massage parlours reopen for business

Maya Taylor

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Government outlines new rules as massage parlours reopen for business | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Alan Caishan on Unsplash

From today, you can once more enjoy a Thai massage, but there are strict conditions attached to the reopening of massage facilities. Suffice to say, it won’t be the same as the massage you had in the past. As the country enters phase 3 of the easing of Covid-19 restrictions, massage parlours are required to register on the Department of Health Service Support website, where they must complete an online self-assessment certificate.

They are also required to keep the department up to date by way of weekly reports on their safety and hygiene protocols. All massage parlours have been issued with a set of rules for both staff and customers. Facilities found to be breaching the conditions of operation will be shut down temporarily. Here are the rules for the “new normal” massage experience…

Guidelines for massage parlours

• Use one entrance only, with space of at least one metre between the reception desk and customers when recording personal details
• Shop operators must have a temperature screening point for both employees and customers
• Shops must provide cloth masks, medical masks, and hand sanitiser containing 70% alcohol
• Everyone in the shop must wear a mask and keep clean
• Follow good health practices issued by the Public Health Ministry
• Massage chairs must be placed at least 1.5 metres apart
• Only one customer per room, but in case of a large room, a folding door or curtain can be installed to separate the room into individual areas
• Provide safe payment options such as online payment
• Prepare and provide clean clothing to customers. When massage is over, the clothing must be removed and cleaned
• Prepare a proper ventilation system
• Employees must change into uniform before providing service
• During service, talk to customers only when necessary

Guidelines for customers…

• Wear a mask throughout the service
• Cooperate for temperature screening and provide true information about personal details
• Clean hands both before and after the service
• Follow the shop’s advice

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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