Thailand News Today | Phuket drops outdoor mask mandate!
Phuket dropped its outdoor mask mandate starting yesterday June 1,
despite the Prime Minister saying two days ago that there are NO plans to do so. Medical or cloth face masks will still be required to be worn indoors,
in crowded spaces, and badly ventilated spaces.
The masking requirement – indoors and outdoors – is still in effect in all other provinces around the kingdom,
for the meantime anyway.
In Phuket only, people may remove their masks at the beach, public parks, sports stadiums, and other public areas, but are urged to keep a social distance of 2 meters at all times.
Last week, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Public Health Kiattiphum Wongrajit
announced the ministry would drop the mask mandate,
in outdoor spaces, in “certain areas” of Thailand to begin with. The ministry said the mask requirement could be dropped in areas with low case numbers,
high vaccination rates, and quote “medical preparedness”.
Currently, Phuket is the only province where the outdoor mask mandate has been dropped.
As for the rest of Thailand, the ministry said people could expect the outdoor mask mandate to be dropped around mid-June.
Seems like the public health ministry and the prime minister’s office are not on the same page,
as just two days ago a spokesperson for Thailand’s PM Prayut Chan-o-cha said “the government has no plan to allow people to remove face masks.”
Well, THEY can keep it on, while most of us may side with the public health ministry on this one.
Thailand’s health ministry says the government needs more time before downgrading Covid-19 to a communicable disease.
In February 2020, the virus was classified as a dangerous communicable disease,
to enable the Thai authorities to react swiftly to contain the spread.
Now, with the situation beginning to ease nationally and globally, officials are working towards downgrading the illness.
However, according to a Bangkok Post report, health minister Anutin Charnvirakul says it will still take several weeks before any decision is taken.
Once the virus has been downgraded, it will mean the government is no longer obliged to cover treatment costs. With bars and other nightlife venues allowed to re-open in 31 provinces as of yesterday, Anutin says infections are likely to increase.
However, provided most do not suffer severe symptoms, this will not affect things.
He adds that while the emergency decree is still in place,
officials can still prohibit large gatherings and order Covid patients or those at risk of being infected into quarantine.
Re-classifying Covid as a communicable disease under surveillance will need to be approved by the CCSA.
Anutin says officials met yesterday to discuss a timeline for announcing the virus as endemic.
He says that if the situation continues to improve, the government will cancel the state of emergency and re-classify the virus.
In related news, the Public Health Ministry has confirmed it has shut down the Mor Chana contact-tracing app,
the app everyone pretended to use and pretended to be useful.
Unlike the still operational Mor Prom app, which was created to record an individual’s vaccination status,
track vaccine side-effects, and provide data on the national vaccine rollout,
the now-defunct Mor Chana app was developed to track users’ whereabouts and let them know if they’d been anywhere where Covid-19 was present.
Spoiler alert, it was everywhere. We all knew that anyway.
People were able to use the app to tell Big Brother of their whereabouts, be informed of the risks,
and know when they’d been in the vicinity of an infected person. And everyone diligently complied, wink wink.
The government has been asked to postpone the Personal Data Protection Act because some of the laws remain unclear. The Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry, and Banking yesterday asked the government to delay the bill as some of the clauses remain vague and need to be clarified.
They also insist clear directions must be issued and 20 organic laws completed before it is ratified.
Sanan Ang Ubolkul, chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce,
also expressed concerns about the law’s enforcement and punishments related to the law which came into effect yesterday.
The standing committee suggested that state agencies can help the public and private sectors
better understand the law and allow time for adjustment.
The government ruled yesterday that if someone’s data has been used without consent,the owner of that data can file a lawsuit. This has no connection to the Mor Chana app being canceled.
The penalty for improper data use carries a fine of up to 5 million baht and a maximum jail term of one year.
There are some exceptions and allowances, however, such as if one person’s information or images are included in another person’s post uploaded to social media and done so without malicious intent.
After the Tourism Authority of Thailand traveled to Saudi Arabia on a roadshow last month, the TAT has now brought its tourism campaign to Europe.
From May 23-to 25, the TAT traveled to 3 European countries to promote its campaign “Visit Thailand Year 2022: Amazing New Chapters”.
The campaign promotes medical tourism, beaches, and shopping in Thailand.
During the European roadshow, the TAT visited The Netherlands, Belgium, and France.
The visit came in light of Thailand easing several travel restrictions.
The TAT used the roadshow to explore new opportunities for Thai tourism businesses and airlines to build relationships with tour operators,
travel agents, and destination management companies in these countries.
All 3 of the European countries the TAT visited are important sources of visitors to Thailand.
In 2019, around 230,000 Dutch tourists, 713,000 French tourists, and 114,000 Belgian tourists visited Thailand.
Thailand’s tourism ranking in the Travel and Tourism Development Index recently dropped down a notch from 35th place in 2021 to 36th place this year,
out of 117 countries.
The president of the Thai Hotels Association said that Thailand’s problems with safety and security have been hurting the country’s reputation for many years.
We’ll see if the TAT’s roadshows can redeem Thailand’s tourism reputation in the world.
Officials on the popular tourist island Koh Larn off the coast of Pattaya are installing 200 CCTV cameras at 7 beaches around the island. Pattaya Deputy Manager Kiattisak Sriwongchai said the installation is almost finished,
and the cameras will be fully operational early this month.
The cameras, he said, are high-tech, and can zoom in up to 800 meters. He added that they can observe entire beach areas,
and spot boats headed for Pattaya. They can also recognize car license plates.
Kiattisak added that Koh Larn’s Tawan Beach Pier, which has been under repair for a long time, should be renovated in 2023.
The renovation will include a new walkway, roof, and railings. As Pattaya’s busiest pier, Tawan Beach Pier has been dilapidated since even before the Covid-19 pandemic.
Kiattisak added that Tawan Beach’s administration building is also under construction, and is now 90% complete. When the building is finished, it will become the beach’s main medical center to provide initial medical services before transferring patients to other hospitals and medical centers.
Tawan Beach’s pier is not the only pier on Koh Larn that’s out of shape.
In February, 4 tourists fell from Sangwan Beach’s pier after a railing on the pier broke. The tourists were taking a photo and leaning against the railing when the railing broke, and they were seriously injured falling onto the rocks below.
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