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It’s official – face masks now voluntary in most places in Thailand

Tim Newton

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Any face mask confusion is now clarified by the publishing of the latest edict in the Royal Gazette.

“The wearing of a mask is a voluntary practice from now onwards so that people can now live closer to normal conditions. The Ministry of Public Health only recommends that the general public wear a mask when living with other people in a crowded place, in areas where there is a large gathering of people where they can’t maintain social distancing, or in a poorly ventilated place, to reduce the risk of transmission of infection.”

Reading between the lines of the latest announcement on masks, you can walk around the streets and public spaces, but still need to wear one on public transport for example. Whilst the official announcement raises plenty more questions, the real-life result will be that there will be fewer people walking around the streets of Thailand with face masks.

Just how quickly Thais and expats reverse their 2 year and 2 month habit is yet to be seen. Many speculate that, just like in Singapore, there will still be a core of residents who will just keep wearing masks in public places for the foreseeable future.

Private businesses and organisations will also be able to apply their own mask-wearing rules – shops, taxis, and airlines.

It is also likely that all Thai government offices and schools will continue with a mask-wearing policy at this time. So we’ll need to keep a mask tucked in our pockets as we navigate our daily lives for a while yet. If an office or private company requires you to wear a face mask whilst using their service or in their space, there’s nothing you can do about that other than put on a face mask or turn and walk out.

The announcement is effective from NOW, ready for the July 1 removal of the Thailand Pass and compulsory US$10,000 insurance for incoming travellers.

 

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Tim Newton has lived in Thailand since 2011. An Australian, he has worked in the media, principally radio and TV, for 42 years. He has won the Deutsche Welle Award for best radio talk program (public radio Australia), presented over 11,000 radio news bulletins, 3,950 in Thailand alone, hosted 1050 daily TV news programs and produced 2,100 videos, TV commercials and documentaries. He also reported for CNN, Deutsche Welle TV, CBC, Australia's ABC TV and Australian radio during the 2018 Cave Rescue and other major stories in Thailand. As founder of The Thaiger in 2016, Tim is the current English Content Manager for the company, based in their Bangkok HQ.

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