Thailand News Today | CCSA confirms possible easing of mask mandate
The CCSA has acknowledged that face masks in Bangkok may soon be dropped.
Although no date has been announced yet, the CCSA says the easing of mask-wearing in some public locations is on the table, as well as allowing night venues to stay open until 2 am.
Nightlife venues were allowed to “officially” open until midnight starting June 1, although in reality, they’ve been open for quite some time now. Any further extensions to opening hours will be based on infection numbers, with the CCSA reviewing the Covid situation every couple of weeks.
Today’s report of official Covid infections was just around 2,200, a massive drop from the over 28,000 cases registered on April 1. The trend downwards has been steady and stable since the start of April.
CCSA chief, Supoj Malaniyom, revealed that officials are meeting on Friday to debate whether to extend the opening hours of night venues and that there is a strong possibility more restrictions will be removed.
Meanwhile, Bangkok’s newly-elected governor, Chadchart Sittipunt, yesterday said he believes the time is right for people to stop wearing face masks in open areas.
Our second news bomb is going right past the government’s scanners because allegedly its bomb detectors are as good as “cat poop scoop”. The Thai government was slammed by the opposition Move Forward party for wasting almost 7.5 million baht to investigate GT200 bomb detectors that have already been deemed as defective.
As for the analogy of being as useful as “cap poop scoop”, it was the Move Forward party that thought of that punch line, not my own, unfortunately.
The GT200 was produced by UK-based Global Technical, who claimed the device could detect, from a distance, various substances including explosives and drugs. It was distributed to a number of different countries in 2001. The first organization that imported and used the GT200 device was the Royal Thai Airforce.
The UK Government banned the export of the devices in January 2010 and warned foreign governments that the GT200 was “wholly ineffective” at detecting bombs and explosives. The owner of Global Technical, Gary Bolton, was convicted in 2013 on two charges of fraud relating to the sale and manufacture of the GT200 and sentenced to seven years in prison
The device was first used at Bor Thong Airport in Yala. Officials were impressed by the quote-unquote “result” so more devices were imported into other departments. But the device’s efficiency was questioned after it failed to detect car bombs in Narathiwas, in the South of Thailand. The device was tested and it was discovered that it could only detect 4 bombs from 20. This result led to a further investigation and prosecution of the distributing companies and relevant Thai officials. From 2001 to 2010, Thailand imported almost 1,400 devices, costing 1.2 billion baht.
Move Forward Party MP, Jirath pointed out during Thursday’s budget debate that the government is now wasting 7.5 million baht to investigate the GT200 bomb detectors, which, back in 2010, have already been deemed as a useless black plastic box.
Jirat says that the government hired officers from the National Science and Technology Development Agency to investigate the 757 GT200 devices costing 10,000 baht each.
On Saturday, the NSTDA launched an official document to explain the issue saying the investigation of GT200 was processed and is ready to present the report to the court.
But Jedsada, a Professor at the Faculty of Science of Chulalongkorn University, who led the GT200 investigation team back in 2010, says the investigation had already ended back in 2010.
So why is the government spending 7.5 million baht to investigate a device that was already investigated? I’m sure the comments section will have fun with this one.
As the government is spending money investigating devices that were already investigated, Government House security police revealed yesterday they are still owed more than 1 million baht for special overtime services from last year.
Some 150 police officers, from the Supervision Division 4 of Special Branch Bureau 3, who take care of Government House security, say they informed their superiors in the relevant departments about their missing salary but claim that no one will take responsibility.
The unpaid work relates to extra shifts officers did monitoring protests around Government House from August to September 2020. The unpaid allowance totals 1,020,000 baht, and each officer was promised 6,800 baht for the additional work hours.
After the media leaked the story yesterday, Royal Thai Police spokesperson, Yingyot Thepjamnong, explained the allowance had been already proposed to the financial department and approved by the budget managing department.
Yingyot added the delay is because some extra documents were needed from Special Branch Bureau 3 and said he expects the issue to be resolved within a week.
Public Security Police Commander, Surapong Thanonjit, insists that the allowance and income of police officers are important and the issue needs to be solved as soon as possible.
Surapong says he has assigned the financial and budget managing departments to take a close look at the case and update him on the situation.
With Covid projected to be labelled as endemic next month, hospitals and alternate quarantine sites have resumed normal operations.
Hospitels are hotels that provided rooms for people who had mild Covid symptoms. They helped ease the strain on the kingdom’s hospitals during the peak period of the coronavirus pandemic. But now the service is consigned to history.
Hotels that used to rely on Chinese tourists as a source of revenue were the hardest hit. Staff shortages are another problem as the industry tries to get back on its feet since many experienced employees have left the hotel industry.
The conversion from hotel to hospital helped hotels sustain some income as tourism was hit hard. But now restrictions are easing, and borders are opening, hotels can return to normal, just in time for the high season later this year in October. An extensive maintenance and cleaning procedure is already underway in preparation.
As many as 128 Thai businesses chose to partake in alternative quarantine services to welcome both visitors and regular guests, such as those attending meetings and seminars during the final few months of the AQ program. Last month, the Department of Health Service Support announced the closure of all AQ sites. But if the number of cases rises again, the quarantine service will be reinstated.
After some Covid requirements were relaxed on May 1, the number of people arriving at Suvarnabhumi Airport that needed to stay at AQ accommodation, dropped to around 30 per day, compared to 600-700 per day in the second half of 2021.
A Pattaya policeman was seriously injured after a former senior sergeant major went on a violent rampage.
Jetsadabhon Reungrit was arrested and sent to a psychiatric hospital for treatment after a number of anti-social incidents at a Na Jomtien housing government project, in Chon Buri.
Residents alerted security guards to a scene after Jetsadabhon began hammering on residents’ doors and threatening them with a knife. This followed several nights of anti-social behaviour where neighbours would be woken in the early hours of the morning to the sound of him shouting and throwing things around inside his apartment.
One policeman was injured during the arrest when the suspect hit him with a wrench. Jetsadabhon was then sent to Banglamung Hospital after police apprehended the man on Saturday. His mother says her son had a history of self-harm after losing his temper.
The 68-year-old says his son’s mental illness problems are a result of long-term drug abuse. She explained to police that the former senior sergeant major began using drugs while on the job and was forced to resign due to physical and mental ailments caused by his substance abuse.
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