Songkran fun to go ahead with strict limits

Songkran fun to go ahead with strict limits

As the government needs to strike a balance between stimulating the economy and preventing the Covid-19 outbreak from flaring up again and damaging the economy further, the Songkran festival will be celebrated but not all activities will be allowed, the government said yesterday.

The Tourism and Sports and Public Health Ministries will today discuss how to introduce the "new normal" concept into the organisation of Songkran celebrations this year, said Gen Natthapol Nakpanich, secretary-general of the National Security Council, in his capacity as chairman of a Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) subcommittee.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha had stressed the need to relax Covid-19 control measures for the sake of stimulating the economy while at the same time ensuring that festive joy won't end up exacerbating the outbreak.

The subcommittee will prepare a proposal on Songkran celebration measures for submission to the CCSA's main committee on March 19 for approval, he said.

"At this point festive celebrations will be allowed this year," Gen Natthapol said.

"Travelling, song nam phra and rot nam dam hua activities will be allowed, while other activities that may require unmasking such as water splashing and pra paeng won't be allowed," he said.

Song nam phra is a tradition of sprinkling water onto a Buddha image and rot nam dam hua is a tradition of pouring water on the hands of revered elders and ask for blessing. Pra paeng is festive play in which Songkran ravellers paint hand powder onto the face of one another as part of the water-splashing festival.

Samut Sakhon and Pathum Thani, where the outbreak situation remains worrying, won't be allowed that much relaxation on the Covid-19 control measures, unless their situations improve vastly before the festival comes next month, he said.

In another development, Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon chaired a meeting of the national committee on road accident prevention and reduction, in which a plan for curbing road accidents during Songkran festival was discussed.

The plan is designed to be implemented from April 10 until April 16, with an aim to cut road accident casualties by at least 5%, the meeting was told.

Last April the number of road accidents decreased by 60.84% when compared with 2019, the meeting was told.

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