No curfew yet, but partial lockdown is here — Wissanu
The government has no plans for the time being to impose a curfew to stem the spread of the coronavirus but will stringently enforce restrictions on travel and gatherings as the state of emergency starts taking effect after midnight of Wednesday, Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngarm said this afternoon.
But he did not rule out the possibility of a curfew being declared if the ongoing efforts to fight the deadly virus failed.
Wissanu said initial restrictions issued under the state of emergency decree imposed by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha include a ban on non-Thais travelling into the country.
There are few exceptions for Bangkok-based diplomats who need to return to Thailand from overseas trips and pilots and flight attendants of airlines that still operate. But they all need to have fit-to-fly certificates. The same requirement also applies to Thai citizens wanting to return to Thailand.
“This is not a lockdown of the country as the airports are still open,” he said.
Wissanu said that the stay-at-home directive will also be strictly enforced for three particular groups of people who are considered to be most vulnerable to contracting the virus. They are people who are older than 70, children not older than five, and people with illnesses, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, pneumonia and respiratory problems.
Authorities will also impose stringent measures to discourage people from travelling, especially those travelling between provinces. “They will be subject to tough screening to the point that they may not want to leave home,” he said.
The measures will include requirement for passengers to be seated at a proper distance between them, wearing of face masks, taking of temperature and frequent checks at check-points.
Wissanu said all the measures to be implemented under the state of emergency decree are designed to ensure that people practice social distancing and comply with the stay at home directive.
Bangkok and several other provinces have already ordered all shopping malls, entertainment places and sport venues closed while food-shops and restaurants can only open for take-out and delivery. Wissanu said the state of the emergency decree will give authorities legal enforcement of these directives and more stringent measures would be imposed if necessary.
Violators of the decree are liable to a 2-year imprisonment or a fine of 40,000 baht or both.