NSC set to mull lifting emergency in 2 weeks

NSC set to mull lifting emergency in 2 weeks

Somsak: 'Poll not on agenda'
Somsak: 'Poll not on agenda'

The National Security Council (NSC) will decide whether to prolong the country's state of emergency in two weeks' time, secretary-general Somsak Roongsita said on Monday.

Gen Somsak told the Bangkok Post that whether to extend the executive decree depends on the number of people who are reported to have contracted Covid-19 over the coming days and weeks.

"We will have a look at the matter in another two weeks," he said when asked about media reports that the NSC is considering revoking the decree on May 31.

The NSC chief did not elaborate further but said the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) will consider various aspects from health and safety to security and the economy.

The decree has hurt business activities, Gen Somsak admitted, adding that he was aware that many people had defied the order by gathering to socialise and gamble at night, all of which risks spreading the virus.

The decree, which took effect in late March as Thailand battled high infection numbers, remains in place after the CCSA agreed on April 27 to continue enforcing it for another month. Among the restrictions are a six-hour curfew at night, business shutdowns and a ban on large public gatherings to prevent a surge in Covid-19 cases.

Six business types and activities, including markets, hair salons, restaurants and some outdoor exercises, were allowed to resume on May 3 as the government began to ease the lockdown.

It had been reported that the government will ask the National Intelligence Agency to conduct a poll on the impact of the decree to help it determine whether to lift it wholly or partially next month.

The public opinion survey will be coordinated by the Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc), according to Thai media.

However, Gen Somsak on Monday this was not on the agenda.

Gen Prayut, as the CCSA chief, "does not have a policy and has not issued an order" to carry out a survey on the issue, he said.

The decision to extend the decree will depend mainly on the present situation, in particular the daily number of new infections, he stressed.

Asked whether the polling plan had been cancelled because of opposition from the Pheu Thai Party which has said it does not trust Isoc, Gen Somsak said the NSC had yet to assign Isoc to do the job in the first place.

He added that he could not rule out the government conducting a poll, but stressed that even if it did, it would not be a key factor in the CCSA's decision-making process regarding whether to prolong the decree.

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