PM fined B6,000 for breaking mask rule at Covid meeting

PM fined B6,000 for breaking mask rule at Covid meeting

A truck driver and two of his passengers wear face masks while travelling in Bangkok. City Hall has made it compulsory for everyone inside the same vehicle to wear face masks in a bid to halt the Covid spike. Pornprom Satrabhaya
A truck driver and two of his passengers wear face masks while travelling in Bangkok. City Hall has made it compulsory for everyone inside the same vehicle to wear face masks in a bid to halt the Covid spike. Pornprom Satrabhaya

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha was yesterday fined 6,000 baht for violating City Hall regulations by failing to wear a face mask during a meeting at Government House.

Gen Prayut's Facebook Page yesterday posted a picture of a meeting he had had with his advisers and cabinet ministers to discuss moves to accelerate the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines.

Critics noted that everyone except the PM had worn masks, just as Bangkok residents had been ordered to whenever leaving home or risk a fine of up to 20,000 baht under the Communicable Disease Act.

The PM's picture was later deleted but Bangkok governor Aswin Kwanmuang revealed on his Facebook page that Gen Prayut has telephoned him to ask whether he he had broken any rules.

Pol Gen Aswin said he told Gen Prayut that he had indeed broken the BMA's mask-wearing regulation. He and police officers then went to Government House and pressed a charge against the prime minister, upon which he said Gen Prayut had paid a fine of 6,000 baht on the spot.

City Hall also issued a reminder yesterday that wearing a face mask was now compulsory in all vehicles carrying more than one person in Bangkok.

City Clerk Silapasuai Rawisaengsun confirmed the requirement, which is part of measures by the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

City Hall has now made it compulsory for the driver and all passengers in the same vehicle to wear face masks, even if people in the vehicle are from the same family. If the driver is alone, however, there is no need to wear a mask.

Ms Silapasuai said he wanted to to clear up questions raised on social media after the directive was announced on Sunday and came into effect yesterday.

News anchors and TV studio staff are also required to wear masks, Ms Silapasuai said, adding that people in the public eye should set a good example.

However, Ms Silapasuai said doctors had advised against children under two years old wearing masks because of the risk of suffocation, so parents should not take them to crowded, high-risk areas.

Sirirurg Songsivilai, permanent secretary for the Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation, said the ministry had used an artificial intelligence-based system called AiMASK to survey mask-wearing behaviour of people in Bangkok recently.

Using CCTV and facial recognition technology, it found the number of those wearing masks correctly had risen to 98.14%, compared to 91.62% last month, Dr Sirirurg said.

He said Bangkok residents had become more vigilant following the infection cluster in Bang Khae markets last month and the recent clusters linked to night entertainment venues which had been blamed for the latest surge.

The number of people failing to wear masks or wearing masks incorrectly has declined from 8.38% to 1.86%.

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