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Social distancing for Songkran, Thailand’s New Year water festival



Songkran 2019 in Koh Tao / Photo by Caitlin Ashworth

Thailand’s massive water festival Songkran, celebrating the Thai New Year, got the “okay” as long as the festivities are in line with Covid-19 prevention measures. PM Prayut Chan-o-cha says people need to abide by social distancing rules during the Songkran holiday from April 13 to 15… So make sure your water gun shoots at a long range.

For long distance water fights, the Super Soaker CPS 2000 is recommended by Wirecutter for the New York Times. They say it’s the most powerful mass-produced water gun in history, shooting at a 15-metre range at nearly a litre per second. The CPS 2000 is around $150 USD, so a more affordable option would be the plunger-style water gun from Steam Machine, which cost around $20 USD. While the Steam Machine water launchers can shoot at a range of up to 21 metres, it needs to be refilled often and is best used near a pool or a barrel of water.

Social distancing for Songkran, Thailand's New Year water festival | News by Thaiger

Songkran 2019 in Koh Tao / Photo by Caitlin Ashworth

Allowing Songkran to take place this year is intended to help stimulate the economy which was battered over the past year due to the pandemic. Along with the prime minister, Culture Minister Itthiphol Kunplome also insisted that disease prevention measures must be strictly maintained, adding that social distancing and capacity limits are “chief” among the measures.

Popular spots for Songkran celebrations, like Bangkok’s Khao San Road, are given the “okay” to hold events, as long as they abide by the rules to prevent the spread of Covid-19. For Khao San Road, famous among foreign backpackers, the festival can give a boost to local businesses and vendors who have been struggling to earn an income due to the lack of tourists, according to president of the Khao San Business Association Sanga Ruangwattanakul.

“We know that it won’t help much as there are still no international tourists, but at least it is a good starting point to reignite business activities on Khao San Road… At the moment, we can only count on the support of local tourists to survive.”

He says 80% of the business activities on the street rely on foreign tourists. Many businesses that rely heavily on tourists, like massage shops and souvenir shops, there are “no customers at all.”

“For pubs and bars, there are just a few customers per night. Out of 500 entrepreneurs on the road, only 50 are still operating.”

Travel restrictions are likely to be eased in time for Songkran, Prayut says, adding that the government is still reviewing the rules for the holiday.

“The government is in the process of considering what can be allowed, whether to permit some activities or all of them. But if the virus spreads, the government might be blamed for it…So I call for your understanding. Easing restrictions is not an easy call to make since the government has to take responsibility for the whole country.”

Director of the Health Science Centre of Emerging Diseases at Chulalongkorn University, Thiravat Hemachudha, said he was concerned with the government’s plan to relax restrictions during the water festival. While the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration reported a decline in the number of daily coronavirus infections, he says the CCSA did not report on 100 infections at a plant in Samut Sakhon.

SOURCES: Bangkok Post | Wirecutter


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  1. EdwardV

    Thursday, March 4, 2021 at 11:12 am

    “ Out of 500 entrepreneurs on the road, only 50 are still operating.” – that pretty much says it all.

  2. Ynwaps

    Thursday, March 4, 2021 at 11:28 am

    Wirecutter PR/ free ads suck.

  3. Shane

    Thursday, March 4, 2021 at 2:43 pm

    I have not seen social distancing practised here, so I doubt it’ll be observed during Songkran. I recall going to my local bank branch last March and being checked for a mask and temperature, so initial impressions were good. Inside however, it was fairly crowded as service was slower than normal as they only had two counters open. What troubled me however was that out of six teller counters in the bank, the only two occupied were adjacent counters 3 and 4. The same seems to apply at my local supermarket. Makes no sense.

  4. zig

    Thursday, March 4, 2021 at 3:27 pm

    social distancing for Songkran???….yeah right

  5. Frank

    Thursday, March 4, 2021 at 6:15 pm

    You think I want to play Songkran and risk myself? No thanks.. I have underlying issues even.. why do they not prospone all this stuff … money money money so pathetic

  6. henry

    Thursday, March 4, 2021 at 8:23 pm

    First time I ever comment. Recommended watergun US 120. I am Dutch, live in Nakhon Ratchasima since 15 years and I’ve got a smaal mini market here. We sell waterguns starting from 10 till 300 Baht. Cold beer big bottle 55 Baht. There is also an another Thailand. Here no Pukhet, Pattaya or Bangkok things. [ All the “fun” available] Wish I would see more info about these areas. Invitation to all, come and have a look. Have fun and a good time without spending too much money [Sorry if my English is not that good)

  7. dispensed

    Thursday, March 4, 2021 at 8:59 pm

    The water has germs in it. It gets in your sinuses and you get sick. Suh-suh-suh-suh-TAHY HOME!

  8. Philip John Lawrence

    Thursday, March 4, 2021 at 9:02 pm

    Please know Sangron is weeks away xxx

  9. Lee Hai

    Friday, March 5, 2021 at 2:06 am

    My feelings exactly, Songkran and social distancing, an oxymoron if there ever was one!

  10. BJoe

    Friday, March 5, 2021 at 2:37 am

    One must realize that Songkran is first and foremost, a celebration of the coming “rice planting” season, not a drunken revelry that most farang consider it to be, or a money inducing event to attract tourist. It should be a celebration among family and friends, not a water-gun fight by drunks. Certainly it should be allowed with common sense restraints considering the pandemic.

  11. Geoffrey

    Friday, March 5, 2021 at 9:33 am

    That ain’t going to happen !!!

  12. Roger Bruce

    Friday, March 5, 2021 at 1:49 pm

    Very foolish move (do the vaccines first you morons )
    The Gov will see a spike in infections
    Hope not the new strains
    I cannot believe this Gov in Thailand
    No wonder is now classed as only 30/100 as a free country
    Good Luck Thailand

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Caitlin Ashworth is a writer from the United States who has lived in Thailand since 2018. She graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and media studies in 2016. She was a reporter for the Daily Hampshire Gazette In Massachusetts. She also interned at the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia and Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida.

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