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Thailand News Today | State of Emergency lifted, Quarantine latest, Phuket Light Rail | October 22

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Government lifts Bangkok’s State of Emergency

Bangkok’s State of Emergency has been lifted, according to a statement published in the Royal Gazette, making it official.

The order, that banned public gatherings over 5 people, and censoring critical media commentary, was imposed last Thursday morning by PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, leading to the breaking up a protest and the arrests of a number of activists.

Despite the State of Emergency, protesters ignored the orders and rallies only grew over the past week.

The emergency order also banned content on websites and social media considered to be a “threat to national security.” Some Thai media outlets covering the protests were under fire, and authorities tried to suspend them under the emergency order. The court dismissed the requests to block those media companies, saying the Thai Constitution does not give the court power to shut down media platforms.

Large protest group amassed at Government House

The lifting of the State Emergency follows two key events last night.

A large, prepared protest group that marched on Government House demanding the resignation of the Thai PM – they even prepared a letter for him all ready to sign. Police had 2 buses, barbed wire and water cannon trucks, along with riot police, awaiting them. Both sides seemed poised for a confrontation but protests leaders peacefully dispersed the crowd at 9.35pm. The other was an address on national TV by Prayut Chan-o-cha, asking protesters to stand down and participate in dialogue with the government.

Negative Covid-19 results for first group on the Special Tourist Visa

Surely, the most anticipated and followed tourists ever to grace Thailand’s shores. All 39 visitors who flew in from China this week on the new Special Tourist Visa have tested negative for Covid-19. While it’s a small group, they’re the first foreign tourists to arrive since travel restrictions were imposed in late-March.

More international tourists are expected to arrive next week under the auspices of the new Special Tourist Visa. If there are no positive Covid-19 cases in the first groups, the government says they could start to lift restrictions, like cutting down the mandatory quarantine period, or allowing more applicants under the STV.

Groups from China and Scandanavian countries are the next arrivals under the STV in the next few weeks.

Health Minister says quarantine could be reduced to 10 days, maybe eventually zero

Health officials have confirmed that they are ready to reduce the mandatory quarantine period for foreign tourists, provided other relevant bodies agree.

The current quarantine period is set at 14 days, but the Public Health Minister says this could be reduced to 10. He adds that if the reduction is successful, quarantine could be further reduced, eventually reaching a point where quarantine is no longer a requirement.

“The truth is, the Public Health Ministry is ready for the change, but other relevant agencies still have requested time to adjust. So, we have to wait and work together.”

4.4 million methamphetamine pills seized near Laos border

Police seized 4.4 million methamphetamine pills worth more than 400 million baht after a police chase in the northeast near the Thai-Laos border.

Thai media reports that the alleged drug traffickers threw black bags full of the drugs out onto the road during the police chase and drove off into a rubber farm in the Bung Kla district.

Police had received a tip about drugs allegedly being trafficked across the Mekong River and were tracking a truck driving fast by the river.

Police searched the bags which contained over 4 million methamphetamine pills. Police also found 2,970 ecstasy pills.

Since October 1, the Royal Thai Navy has been involved in 18 drug trafficking busts, seizing methamphetamine, ecstasy, heroin and marijuana, totalling around 2.7 billion baht.

Phuket light rail study goes to Cabinet for approval

The Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand has approved the findings of a study on Phase 1 development of a light rail system in Phuket.

The first phase, budgeted at 35 billion baht, will run 42 kilometres from Phuket Airport to Chalong intersection.

The findings of the study will be tabled in the Cabinet in 12 months time. If approved, bidding for joint investment will begin in early 2022, with trams expected to start running in 2026.

The service will have 21 stations, of which 19 will be at ground level, one at elevated level and one underground.

Critics say the route won’t do much to benefit local communities and that the main Thepkasattri Road artery will be severely disrupted during the years of construction.

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Alan

    October 23, 2020 at 4:51 pm

    we just dont need it. Tourists want Patong, Kamela, Karon, Kata where the hotels are. This will take money away from thai locals, taxi, minibuses etc. CRAZY.

    • Avatar

      RA

      October 24, 2020 at 10:57 am

      What Tourist? Phuket is a ghost town. Traffic is almost non-existent.

  2. Avatar

    Sven

    October 24, 2020 at 5:39 pm

    Hello Thai,
    We only waiting to Travel from Sweden for 2months in Patong but its impossible with this rules so we and à LOT of Many Swedes may go to Carribien instead of Patong iwe have stay in Patong since 2005 in jan- feb So Open the border and we Will spend 300 k baht in 2 months And that also ten thousands of swedes do without Quarantine.

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Tourism

Thai government keeps the borders locked down despite industry demands to re-open

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Thai government keeps the borders locked down despite industry demands to re-open | The Thaiger

Despite progress in vaccines and the hard lobbying from Thailand’s tourism and hospitality industries, the Kingdom is destined to miss out on the 2010/2021 high season. The Thai Minster for Sports and Tourism, Pipat Ratchakitprakan, says that the government is looking to March/April in 2021 as the earliest date for any return to general tourism.

For now travellers still have to go through a long list of Thai red tape, certificates and trying to find flights into Thailand. And when they arrive, all travellers will face 14 days in quarantine, at their own expense. Even the new Special Tourist Visa hasn’t been very special at all with only a handful of takers for the long-stay visa.

Thailand’s hotel operators and tourism industry players were hoping for a broader re-opening plan so they could make the best of the traditional high season, usually late November to the end of February each year. That isn’t going to happen now.

With many of the country’s traditional feeder markets having to weather a current surge in cases, except China, there wouldn’t be many takers anyway. Even the Chinese are mostly prohibited from travelling for now.

A drag in the plans to re-open the borders is likely to push more Thai and foreign-owned tourism and hospitality businesses to the wall, unable to ‘hang on’ for another 4 months, or longer.

The Thai Hotel Association and The Thailand Travel Agents Association have been lobbying, even demanding, the Thai government to drop its mandatory quarantine provisions and urgently negotiate travel bubble with provinces in China and other nations that are currently “low risk” for Covid-19, including Singapore, Vietnam, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and Taiwan.

Andrew J Wood, the President of Skål International Bangkok, says that it’s becoming increasingly evident that the damage being inflicted to Thailand’s massive travel and tourism industry is proving to be critical with “deep long lasting structural economic damage that is set to worsen rather than improve”.

“With the current official mindset of allowing the industry, that employs millions in Thailand, to be sacrificed; thrown to the covid wolf with no meaningful financial lifelines, left to fend for itself and potentially fail. With no hope of borders being opened by mid 2021, even with the introduction of vaccines in key feeder markets, there is confusion and a leadership vacuum in our industry.”

But Minister Pipat says everything is on hold at this stage and that the Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha is urging caution in regards to any wholesale easing of restrictions.

“The country will continue with opening to businessmen, technical experts, high level workers and those in the medical field for now. 14 day quarantine will continue for now with many countries still in the grip of the pandemic.”

He also noted that even Chinese officials are advising caution and suggest waiting until the hot season next year (mid year). There were small outbreaks in 3 cities in China in the middle of November, less than 10 cases in each city, where Chinese health officials rolled out quick-response lockdown teams for the affected communities.

But Andrew Wood makes it clear that any entry to Thailand by tourists involves 14 day quarantine is destined to fail.

“I am sure I am not the only person to say this, but let me say loudly and clearly that tourism promotions with 2 weeks quarantine WILL FAIL. Now vaccines are starting to be introduce lets look at other low risk options for borders to be gradually opened. I plead to the government to allow this. Otherwise the structural damage to our tourism economy will take us until 2025 to repair.”

“A recent survey suggested that 57% of global tourism will have been wiped out by the pandemic by the end of 2020. In Thailand this figure will be nearer to 80% and highlighted Bangkok as the destination which will see the sharpest drop in the world. Thailand will lose 2.1 trillion baht (US$69.7billion) in income before the end of the year in lost tourism revenue.”

The Minister, indeed the Thai government and the CCSA, appear to be bowing to survey after survey which shows Thai people, around the country, are in favour of keeping the borders closed for now, despite the country’s tourism and hospitality industry being decimated by the government’s policies.

The recent spate of cases in northern Thailand, currently an evolving story, will give the risk-averse Thai government increased impetus to keep a tight control on its borders in the short to medium term.

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Thailand

Thai jasmine 105 scoops top prize in world’s best rice competition

Maya Taylor

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Thai jasmine 105 scoops top prize in world’s best rice competition | The Thaiger
PHOTO: www.hot-thai-kitchen.com

Competition judges seeking the world’s best-tasting rice have awarded the top prize to Thailand’s jasmine 105. The rice was named best-tasting at the 12th World Rice Conference, an online event this year, held from Tuesday to Thursday this week.

After the Thai Rice Exporters’ Association added the 105 jasmine to the competition line-up, it was judged the world’s best after scoring top marks in all criteria, including taste, smell, texture, and shape. The judges chose jasmine 105 following a blind test.

In Thai, jasmine 105 is known as hom mali, or by the agricultural name, Khao Dawk Mali 105. It last won the world’s best rice contest in 2017 but was beaten by Cambodia and then Vietnam in the intervening years.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Thailand

Report highlights glaring disparity among school-age children in Thailand

Maya Taylor

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Report highlights glaring disparity among school-age children in Thailand | The Thaiger
PHOTO: www.pxhere.com

A report carried out by the National Statistical Office in collaboration with UNICEF has highlighted the significant inequality between children of school-going age in Thailand. Nation Thailand reports that, while students rallied outside the Education Ministry in Bangkok earlier this week, calling for reforms that include an end to strict uniform requirements, the biggest hurdle they face continues to be that of disparity.

According to the 2019 report, while nearly 100% of children in the Kingdom have completed elementary education, only 65% have finished high school. Up to 160,000 children around the country are missing out on education because of living in extremely remote areas, while a further 30,000 are not attending school because they are in prison on drug charges. Additional problems such as pregnancy, disability, or poverty are preventing children from accessing education.

The report also highlights nearly 400,000 children who are living on the streets or whose parents are migrant workers. Without access to education, they risk falling into substance abuse or becoming the victims of human traffickers.

A second report, that looked at the nutritional status of hilltribe children in the northern province of Chiang Rai, found that many within the educational system are suffering from chronic malnutrition, despite receiving 3 meals a day. The report has been complied by Sukanya Buasri, a Chiang Rai college lecturer, and highlights the difficulty in transporting food to very remote areas, meaning food costs are often higher than the allocated funds. State funding for remote schools is insufficient to cover the hiring of service providers who could deliver nutritionally-balanced meals.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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