Songkran travel okay to visit elderly relatives, not to party – Health Minister

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Despite rising Covid-19 infections in Bangkok and other provinces, Thailand’s Public Health Minister says people travelling from the affected provinces during the Songkran holiday will not have to quarantine.

“Although provinces have been divided into zones, designated by colours according to the infection rates, none will be locked down. People can still travel to other provinces without having to go into quarantine on arrival at their destination. Only people who have been infected with the virus, or are considered to be at high risk, will be quarantined.”

Anutin Charnvirakul’s reasoning is that travellers will primarily be returning home to seek blessings from elderly relatives. He’s calling on people to remain vigilant and not use the holiday as an excuse to party, pointing out that the latest infection clusters are the result of people doing just that.

Despite the minister’s reassurances that travel is safe, the north-eastern province of Buriram is taking matters into its own hands and enforcing 14 days’ quarantine on anyone arriving from the 5 red zone provinces – Bangkok, Pathum Thani, Nonthaburi, Samut Prakan, and Nakhon Pathom. That requirement will be waived if they take a 600 baht rapid Covid-19 test and are found to be negative.

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The Bangkok Post reports that Opas Karnkawinpong from the Department of Disease Control has warned of the need to adhere to disease prevention measures over the holiday. He says that while there is no ban on interprovincial travel, people taking part in traditional Songkran activities, such as merit-making and pouring water over Buddhist statues and on to the palms of the elderly, must do so in well-ventilated, outdoor areas, while wearing face masks and observing social distancing.

Meanwhile, representatives from the hospitality sector have criticised the latest round of restrictions imposed in Bangkok. Thanakorn Kuptajit from the Thai Alcohol Beverage Business Association has criticised the shutdown of nightlife venues in the Bangkok districts of Klong Toey, Watthana, and Bang Khae, arguing that businesses have already ordered in fresh food supplies and hired entertainers. Thaniwan Kulmongkol from the Thai Restaurant Association says the closing time of 9pm is unfair and is calling on PM Prayut Chan-o-cha to review the proposal.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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