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UPDATE: Visa amnesty signed by PM

Jack Burton

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UPDATE: Visa amnesty signed by PM | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Twitter
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UPDATE: PM Prayut Chan-o-cha today signed an executive order granting visa amnesty to foreigners left stranded in Thailand by the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic.

The order, released by the Ministry of Interior, grants “special permission for some classes of aliens to stay in the Kingdom.”

It was signed by Prayuth and head of the Ministry of Interior, Anupong Paochinda.

ORIGINAL STORY:
With many flights cancelled, entire fleets grounded and hotels ordered closed, thousands of tourists and expats across Thailand are in a state of limbo… unable to leave, not allowed to stay. To make matters worse, social distancing requirements are creating chaos at crowded immigration offices nationwide, and onerous new requirements have been added for visa extensions. The situation has put foreigners and immigration officials at additional risk.

But the Immigration Bureau has announced that the Cabinet has approved a plan to offer automatic visa extensions for foreigners, though it will not come into effect until it has been signed by PM Prayut Chan-o-cha.

An immigration spokesman says a set of new rules, which also includes visa amnesty, has been approved by the Ministry of Interior Affairs and is due to be inked by the PM soon. The measure follows complaints of overcrowding and risk of virus infection at immigration offices across the country.

“It will be signed by the PM soon. Please wait for official announcements and don’t fall for online rumours.”

Details of the new rules emerged yesterday after local blogger Richard Barrow wrote on his social media platforms that the bureau has proposed plans to give every foreign national an automatic 30 day stay extension, citing sources within Immigration.

Richard also noted that the 90-day reporting will be temporarily suspended and those who have obtained permanent resident status will not lose their status if they are not able to return to Thailand within a one year period.

Visa amnesty will be granted to every foreigner, but the post did not elaborate on how it will be enforced.

“This is ready to be implemented straight away, but the Immigration Bureau cannot start until it has been signed by the PM. From what I understand, it’s already in the prime minister’s office. They are optimistic he will sign it very soon.”

“I just got off the phone with another Immigration official. So, it looks like the photos that I tweeted of long queues have caught the attention of the right people.”

But immigration officials said that concerned foreigners shouldn’t rely on online rumours…

“Who is he? He is not the Immigration Bureau. How could he come out to say something like that?We will make official announcements when it becomes effective.”

SOURCE: Khaosod English | thaivisa

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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.

Coronavirus (Covid-19)

First phase of Thailand’s Covid-19 vaccinations to start on February 14

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First phase of Thailand’s Covid-19 vaccinations to start on February 14 | The Thaiger
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The government plans to begin Thailand’s 3-phase vaccination plan on February 14, starting with healthcare and frontline workers as well as vulnerable groups.

At the Covid-19 vaccination administration subcommittee meeting today, Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said the first phase of inoculations starting next month will target 19,014,154 Thai people in 4 priority groups…

  • 1,700,000 health workers in both public and private health care sectors.
  • 6,163,095 populations with underlying conditions.
  • 11,136,059 people aged over 60 years
  • Covid-19 task force who are in close contact with infected patients.

The vaccine availability remains limited and only target groups who are at high risk of infection will be vaccinated during the first phase of the vaccination plan, according to permanent secretary of public health Kiattiphum Wongrajit. The vaccines will be free and are not compulsory, Anutin says.

The AstraZeneca vaccine, developed in partnership with Oxford University, was approved by the Thai government for emergency last week. The first batch of 50,000 doses are expected to arrive next month. Thailand also expects 200,000 doses of China’s Sinovac Biotech vaccine to arrive next month. The Chinese vaccine is expected to be approved by Thai drug regulators within the next 3 weeks.

The second phase of the 3-part plan is scheduled to run from May to December, offering vaccinations in all regions. Thai officials aim to have at least 50% of the Thai population vaccinated by the end of the year. The final phase will be rolled out in January 2022, with the goal to have enough vaccines to distribute to create herd immunity.

The government is also launched a Line Official Account called “Mor Prom”, translated as “doctor’s ready” to facilitate the vaccination administration. People can register to make appointments for vaccination, while health authorities can monitor the adverse effects of the vaccines. The platform is expected to launch on February 12 to serve the health workers before opening to the public in April.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post| Thairath online

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Eating out until 11pm in Bangkok is waiting for approval

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Eating out until 11pm in Bangkok is waiting for approval | The Thaiger
PHOTO: GQ Thailand

Bangkok restaurants may soon be allowed to stay open a little later. Health officials are considering easing up Covid-19 prevention measures by extending restaurant dine-in closing times to 11pm. If the proposal by the Thai Restaurant Association is given a green light, it may lead to the lifting ban of alcohol drinking.

After the order of shutting entertainment venues and banning alcohol sales in Bangkok, Samut Prakan, and Chonburi, the revenues in the alcohol beverage business plummeted. Under disease control measures, restaurants in Bangkok are ordered to stop dine-in services at 9pm and all alcohol sales are banned at restaurants to limit gatherings.

According to the president of the Thai Alcohol Business Association, the current ban on alcohol is estimated to cost about 90 billion baht in revenue. The lifting of the ban is then believed to stimulate the economy.

The Thai Chamber of Commerce says the Cabinet might review the proposal on closing hours tomorrow and act immediately to provide relief to restaurant operators as well as those in the alcohol beverage business.

SOURCE: Coconuts Bangkok

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At least 19 Covid-19 cases linked to 2 parties, including celebrity’s birthday

Caitlin Ashworth

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At least 19 Covid-19 cases linked to 2 parties, including celebrity’s birthday | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Twitter: @matoom_efm

At least 19 Covid-19 cases are related to 2 parties – a 5-day New Years celebration in Chiang Mai and a birthday party in Bangkok for a famous TV and radio host Techin Ployphet, aka DJ Matoom, on January 9.

A senior police officer in Bangkok is the latest case possibly linked to the Bangkok “party cluster.” The officer tested positive for Covid-19 after coming in contact with someone who attended the celebrity’s birthday at the Vertigo restaurant and bar at the Banyan Tree Hotel.

After the party, the actor, as well as other attendees, later tested positive for Covid-19. DJ Matoom also attended a New Year’s celebration in Chiang Mai from January 1 to 5, which is also linked to a number of cases.

Department of Disease Control director general Opas Karnkawinpong says a man who attended the Chiang Mai probably carried the virus to Bangkok and spread it at DJ Matoom’s birthday party.

Since the police officer’s positive test result, the Criminal Records Division at the Royal Thai Police headquarters is temporarily closed for cleaning after a senior police officer tested positive for Covid-19.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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