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Thailand News Today | 800+ cases in Samut Sakhon, Countries block UK travel | Dec 21

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Back in Bangkok for this week’s Thailand News Today, wondering if we’re going to be locked down again? All the latest news at thethaiger.com

More than 800 Covid-19 cases now linked to seafood market

More than 800 Covid-19 cases are now linked to the Samut Sakhon province seafood market outbreak.

Up to the weekend the largest number of cases reported in one day in Thailand was 188 on March 22. That all changed yesterday when the CCSA announced some 689 cases associated with an outbreak involving migrant workers at one of the country’s busiest seafood industry hubs. A of the time of recording this program the number had reached 821 cases.

Samut Sakhon is just south west of Greater Bangkok, fronting the Gulf of Thailand. Some 10,000 plus people are now being tested in a massive track and trace offensive. On Saturday, half the people tested were found to be positive for Covid 19. The majority have so far proven to be asymptomatic. Other cases were reported in Suphan Buri, Nakhon Pathom, Ratchaburi, Bangkok and Samut Prakan.

As of this morning, 723 Covid-19 cases were linked directly to the Mahachai Market in Samut Sakhon neighbouring Nakhon Pathom and Samut Songkhram.

The Department of Disease Control says that most of the cases involve Burmese migrant workers who worked in and around the Samut Sakhon coastal fishing markets. Worker camps in the province have been locked down, some surrounded with barbed wire.

The province is now under a nightly curfew that will last until at least January 3 and traffic in and out of the province has been restricted to urgent matters only.

Meanwhile the Bangkok Metropolitan Authority has closed down a number of Bangkok government schools, as a precaution, and suggested that workers work from home for the next 14 days. They’ve also cancelled this year’s New Year celebrations saying that they will only grant New Year events on a case by case basis and only if they have the correct safety protocols in place.

At this morning’s CCSA update, when asked if the lockdowns could spread to neighbouring provinces, including Bangkok, the spokesperson simply answered… “It hasn’t happened yet”

The Thaiger will keep you up to date with any important changes in this story at thethaiger.com

Bangkok’s commercial property market struggles through 2020

This year Thailand’s developers had to work around the effects of government lockdowns and restrictions because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Indeed significant changes have occurred to the commercial property market in Thailand. In commercial office space, the vacancy rate has increased from 6.9% at the end of last year to 8.9% as of Q3 2020.

In retail, the consumer confidence index also fell to its lowest point in 20 years in April 2020 but has improved a bit in recent months. Household debt is up to 83.8% of the country’s total GDP, increasing from 78.9% last year.

In the hotel industry the average occupancy rate dropped to as low as 6.7% in April after the country went into lockdown but managed to recover slightly to 13.7% in Q3, solely relying on ‘staycation’ travel.

New Covid-19 variant prompts many countries to stop travel from the UK

A new strain of the Covid-19 coronavirus is quickly spreading in southern England and prompted a number of countries to ban travel from the United Kingdom. Other nations are mulling similar restrictions, including Thailand.

The new coronavirus variant is said to spread up to 70% more quickly than before. British PM Boris Johnson placed London and southeastern England on a Tier 4 lockdown. Yesterday, the UK reported a record high of daily Covid-19 cases with 35,928 new cases.

At this stage, Thailand has not announced travel restrictions from the UK. All international arrivals still must go through a mandatory 14 day quarantine before travelling in Thailand.

Here’s some of the countries that have set some sort of travel restrictions on UK travellers so far…

Canada, Argentina, Chile and Colombia, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Ireland, Belgium, Italy, Austria, Turkey, Bulgaria and Switzerland.

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Visa

Covid-19 test NOT required for visa extensions (at least not today)

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Covid-19 test NOT required for visa extensions (at least not today) | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Pixy

No, you don’t, yes, you do… Expats are reeling in shock at the idea that there might be mixed messages circulating in relation to Thailand’s immigration requirements, not to mention the announcements (and retractions) published in the nation’s English-language media outlets.

It all began over the weekend, when the nation’s favourite blogger, Richard Barrow, shared the news that foreigners who wished to remain in the Kingdom would need a negative Covid-19 test. According to his post, this update to the country’s immigration law was published in the Royal Gazette on December 25, taking effect from January 25. Needless to say, Richard’s post attracted hundreds of comments from the bewildered, the despairing, and the angry, not to mention the usual slew of social media epidemiologists.

Covid-19 test NOT required for visa extensions (at least not today) | News by The Thaiger

Twitter/Richard Barrow in Thailand

Yesterday, an article published by Khaosod English also stated that Covid-19 testing would be required for all visa extensions. The story has since been removed and replaced with a retraction, following a statement issued by Archayon Kraithong from the Immigration Bureau.

The story was also picked up by The Phuket News, who spoke to the deputy chief of Phuket Immigration, Nareuwat Putthawiro. He confirmed that his office had received no such order from the powers-that-be in Bangkok or from regional headquarters in Songkhla. The immigration chief in Chon Buri said something similar.

Archayon’s original statement had claimed a negative Covid-19 test would be a requirement for all types of visa extensions. Within an hour, he was forced to backpedal and apologise for the… well, you guessed it.

“I apologise for the misunderstanding. It will only apply to certain types of visa, most likely the permanent resident visa.”

Archayon says his office is now waiting for the Council of State to provide an interpretation of the update published in the Royal Gazette last month, which saw Covid-19 added to the list of diseases foreigners must be clear of in order to take up residency in the Kingdom. The virus now joins other prohibited ailments such as elephantiasis, leprosy, and syphilis.

SOURCE: The Phuket News| Khaosod English

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

The Thai government threw a tourist party (sound of crickets) | VIDEO

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The Thai government threw a tourist party (sound of crickets) | VIDEO | The Thaiger

The Thai Government, flushed with the success of their containment of Covid-19, decided to market the Land of Smiles to the world as the safe place to travel. With the annual wet season starting to weaken the tourists would flock back to the S E Asian country that had such a remarkable success containing, then almost eradicating itself, of the coronavirus.

Then they came up with the STV – the special tourist visa which would have the world’s eager travellers packing their sun cream for up to 270 days of Thai tourism.

There were promises of plane loads of tourists and even published flights and carriers. A few flights arrived, most didn’t.

In fact, since the start of the STV, the Special Tourist Visa, with its long list of restrictions and requirements, was floated, along with a re-vamped Tourist Visa, less than 400 people have arrived per month, on average, since the end of October. In the October and November of the year before more than 3 million people arrived in Thailand. Even the government’s limit of 1,200 new tourist arrivals per month was even slightly tested.

The government had bought all the streamers and a pretty new dress for the party but no one came.

What went wrong?

Where was the much-anticipated pent-up demand and people banging on the doors of the world’s Thai embassies?

It was the European winter and the ‘snowbirds’ would surely be back to soak in some Thai sun rays. But no.

The first problem was there wasn’t much for them to come back to. They would have the beaches of the islands all to themselves, they wouldn’t have to wait in line for anything, the domestic airlines were still selling low fares to Tavel anywhere around the country.

But otherwise there wasn’t a lot for them to do. The tourism magnets were a shadow of their former selves. Walking Street, Bangla Road, tours and tour boats, all the tourist strip restaurants. The buzz of the crowds was gone and more than 90% of the tourist-related business had closed up.

Their staff, their families, their bank loans, their stock and investments – all on hold and forced to find come other means to make ends meet. 931 of some of the larger official tourism operators have now gone out of business, according to Bloomberg News. There would be thousands of the smaller family operations that have also been swept aside by the Thai government’s responses to the world pandemic.

 

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Thailand

Myanmar cancels Thai investment in the Dawei Special Economic Zone

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Myanmar cancels Thai investment in the Dawei Special Economic Zone | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Environment Justice Atlas

The Dawei Special Economic Zone Management Committee has announced the cancellation on the deep seaport project contract with Italian-Thai Development (ITD), one of Thailand’s leading industrial firms, by saying that they “lost confidence” in the company after long, controversial issues.

The Dawei Special Economic Zone Management Committee said that the Thai company has caused them “repeated delays, continuing breaches of financial obligations under the contracts and the concessionaires’ failure to confirm their financial capacity to proceed with development”.

They say they will look for new development partners to continue the projects. Currently, there are still no comments from ITD.

The Dawei Special Economic Zone is Myanmar’s initiative to encourage international investments into the country, but the project has been delayed because of funding problems and local opposition.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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