No international flights in before July

No international flights in before July

Aviation authority says ban on commercial routes to stay for now

The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) on Saturday announced it will renew the ban on international commercial flights into the kingdom until the end of next month to continue the fight against Covid-19.

The ban was put in place on April 27 amid the Covid-19 outbreak through an order set to expire this month, according to CAAT director-general Chula Sukmanop.

He said that prolonging the ban would give the authorities more time to fight Covid-19.

The ban was invoked under Sections 27 and 28 of the 1954 Air Navigation Act, Mr Chula said.

He said the ban is not absolute as certain flights are still allowed to land, such as those involving state or military aircraft, Covid-19 humanitarian aid, medicine, emergency landings and the repatriation of Thais from overseas.

Mr Chula said those arriving on the flights are subject to a 14-day quarantine, among other measures imposed by the emergency decree.

CAAT has the authority to resume both national and international flights. Last week it backtracked on a decision to reopen Phuket International Airport after citing infection risks.

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has ordered officials to study the laws that could be used after the emergency decree is lifted.

Mr Wissanu said the premier wants to know if there is a legal tool that can be as effective as the emergency decree in containing the novel coronavirus.

He dismissed speculation that martial law would replace the decree, but said if no other law can be found to control Covid-19, the government will have only the Communicable Diseases Act (CDA) at its disposal.

Mr Wissanu said the act may not give sufficient legal coverage to deal with the spread of the virus.

He said the CDA grants autonomy to each provincial governor to take control in their respective areas, adding there are 77 standards available.

Since the emergency decree was introduced, provincial governors have carried less of a burden in dealing with the economic impact of businesses going under lockdown, Mr Wissanu said, adding the government has centralised power under the decree.

"We still have about 15 more days to decide whether to keep or end the emergency decree," he said, referring to the expiry date on May 31.

In addition, Gen Somsak Roongsita, secretary-general of the National Security Council, responded to concerns raised over a possible resurgence of the Covid-19 outbreak as the kingdom continues to relax restrictions on economic activities.

Gen Somsak said the government is looking into the next phase of relaxed lockdown.

However, if the loosening gives rise to new transmissions, the measures could be reversed.

He said non-essential travels between provinces should be avoided as quarantine measures are still in effect.

The nation-wide curfew, although shortened, must still be adhered to, Gen Somsak added.

A proposal has been made to cut the curfew hours even further, from 11pm-4am effective from tonight, to 11pm-3am.

The revised hours are being urged by people who need to do business in the morning markets.

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