Emergency Decree could be extended a third time, through July

PHOTO: Thai PBS World

The Emergency Decree, set to expire at the end of June, could be extended by another month. Now the National Security Council is recommending extending enforcement of the decree, originally imposed to curb the spread of Covid-19, to July 31. The decree, announced on March 24 and enacted on March 26, has a legally mandated limit of 90 days, but the NSC secretary-general said yesterday they want the decree enforced for 1 more month due to continued concerns about the Covid-19 crisis and the large number of Thai returnees turning up with infections.

Schools across the country are set to reopen and start a new term on Wednesday. Businesses considered ‘high risk’ for virus transmission, including bars, pubs and nightclubs, will reopen if Monday’s meeting of the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration approves the latest proposals to further ease restrictions (aka. Phase 5).

An NSC spokesperson says the proposed extension of the state of emergency will be also decided at the CCSA meeting. It will then go before the Cabinet for approval on Tuesday, as required by law. Critics and opposition leaders have called on the government to end the decree as it gives authorities the power to prohibit gatherings and curb other freedoms.

The secretary-general says the state of emergency has nothing to do with politics and it “has had no impact on people’s daily lives. It’s been extended twice since it was enacted on March 26.”

“Without it, it will be hard for authorities to enforce disease control measures in case of a new surge in virus transmission.”

Without the decree, the government will have to use 5 normal laws to deal with the pandemic, including the Disease Control Law, which has a limited scope of enforcement, while the Emergency Decree contains sweeping provisions allowing the government to carry out disease control measures nationwide.

The NSC says the government has not used the decree against those involved in political gatherings during the past 3 months while it’s been in effect. The Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha says people should know and respect the law.

“If they violate the law, no matter whether it’s the Emergency Decree or any other law, they face legal action.”

But a security source said yesterday that the ban on public gatherings will be lifted when the new extension presumably starts next Wednesday.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post | Bloomberg

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