NSC eyes extending emergency
Proposes new end date of June 30
The National Security Council (NSC) will propose extending the state of emergency for another month to the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) today out of concern over the lingering pandemic.
The NSC yesterday met security agencies and public health officials to assess the current state of emergency, which expires on May 31.
Speaking after the meeting which he chaired, NSC secretary-general Somsak Roongsita said while Thailand has succeeded in slowing the spread of infections, it has to remain vigilant as the global situation is still worrying.
Any further easing of restrictions must be done carefully to prevent a new wave of transmissions. In light of this, the meeting agreed the state of emergency should be extended for another month to June 30, said Gen Somsak.
The extension proposal will be presented to the CCSA today before being forwarded to the cabinet for a decision next week, he added.
Gen Somsak also said continued enforcement of the emergency decree is necessary for the third and fourth stage of relaxation expected in June.
Each new stage of relaxation poses risks and without any precautions in place, a second outbreak will occur and the damage will be worse, Gen Somsak said, adding the NSC will discuss shortening the curfew at its next meeting.
He also denied claims the proposed extension was politically motivated to quell anti-government elements.
Chaithawat Tulathon, secretary-general of the opposition Move Forward Party, yesterday demanded the government lift the state of emergency as quickly as possible to restore normalcy to the country and fix the economic woes caused by the pandemic.
He said that with the public's cooperation, the country's health system can manage any new wave of infections that may arise if the restrictions are lifted.
But La-iad Bungsrithong, president of the Northern Thai Hotels Association, supported the proposed extension, saying it would be worthwhile if it prevented a second or third wave of infections, which would cause more economic damage in the long run.
"It will be better than lifting the restrictions, causing the number of infections to multiply," she said.
Meanwhile, Taweesilp Visanuyothin, spokesman for the CCSA, said an alternative to state quarantine facilities will be offered to some foreigners travelling to Thailand, such as diplomats or businessmen seeking work permits.
Some entrepreneurs are willing to pay to self-quarantine at hotels under observation by public health officials. After the 14-day quarantine, they will be discharged and issued health certificates.
This alternative has been popular with businessmen, and the approach is expected to continue so that when a ban on entry of foreigners is lifted, foreigners who visit Thailand can pay for their self-quarantine at hotels which agree to serve as quarantine facilities.
In a related development, visitors to government agencies and their divisions over the next few days will be encouraged to use the Thai Chana mobile app to check-in and out and to help prevent a second wave of infections, said Polawat Witookollachit, inspector-general at the Digital Economy and Society Ministry.