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State of emergency likely to remain through June

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Despite the reopening of many businesses and a loosening of the national curfew, Thailand’s national state of emergency appears set to remain in effect for at least another month, as authorities are “still not confident” about the nation’s recovery from the Covid-19 crisis, according to a military source. PM Prayut Chan-o-cha met yesterday with military top brass to address the outbreak that continues “wreaking havoc on people from all walks of life.”

The unnamed source says military chiefs are prepared to carry out the government’s wishes if it decides to extend the Emergency Decree, and strict enforcement will continue until the pandemic subsides. The National Security Council, the National Intelligence Agency and other military agencies have been keeping a close eye on the easing of business shutdowns since Sunday, when huge numbers of people flocked to shopping malls.

According to the source, the agencies are worried about the impact on public health if the state of emergency does not continue when the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration allows more businesses and activities to reopen in June. In the current “Phase 2 easing period,” the government needs to wait at least 14 days to assess whether more relaxation of restrictions will lead to further virus outbreaks.

Without the executive decree, the source says, the CCSA will be dissolved and the government will lack the legal mechanisms, including shutdowns and the curfew, which it has used since March to contain the spread of the virus should further action become necessary.

Security authorities say the enforcement of the Communicable Diseases Act alone is not adequate, as legal power will be mostly exercised by the Public Health Ministry.

This is different from the current CCSA management with the PM authorised to give a “single command” integrating the work of both security and health officials.

The secretary-general of the National Security Council says he will call a meeting today between security officers and representatives from the health and business sectors on enforcement of the Emergency Decree, which is due to end on May 31.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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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.

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