Prayut uneasy as tourists splash water

Prayut uneasy as tourists splash water

Foreign visitors on Wednesday shoot their water guns at revellers during the Songkran festival on Khao San Road which is known as Bangkok backpacker central. (Photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb)
Foreign visitors on Wednesday shoot their water guns at revellers during the Songkran festival on Khao San Road which is known as Bangkok backpacker central. (Photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb)

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has instructed Phuket's governor to familiarise tourists with the Songkran water-splashing ban after some visitors joined a water throwing party on Tuesday, said government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana.

The instruction was issued in response to foreign and Thai tourists throwing water in Soi Bang La at Patong Beach during the evening.

Mr Thanakorn said the prime minister expressed concern over the water splashing and ordered the governor to visit tourist areas to inform visitors about the ban.

Elsewhere, governors have been told to issue directives to state agencies in their provinces to monitor Songkran celebrations and ensure strict compliance with the ban.

The government says people are unlikely to wear face masks when they throw water at each other.

However, water throwing, which many revellers regard as the highlight of the Songkran festival, may be permitted in designated areas.

Mr Thanakorn urged people to follow public health safety measures put in place by the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) when they are celebrating Songkran.

He said Gen Prayut advised people to get a Covid-19 test before coming into contact with elderly family members who are prone to infection.

Phuket deputy governor Anupab Yodrabam on Wednesday said the provincial authorities have given directives to Covid-19 situation command units across three districts of the province to enforce the water splashing ban.

He was confident the Bang La incident will not be repeated. Law enforcement officials had failed to act in a timely manner.

In Kathu district, where many tourists are staying, fast-deployment teams were sent to spread the word about the ban.

Meanwhile, police have warned of swift punishment for violators of the ban.

Royal Thai Police spokesman Pol Maj Gen Yingyot Thepjamnong said on Wednesday Songkran celebratory events may be permitted in locations where Covid-free measures can be fully implemented, provided they serve the purpose of preserving Thai tradition.

Where mass events are allowed, there will be no powder dabbing, foam parties, nor any sale or consumption of alcohol.

The Covid-free setting restrictions mandated by the CCSA require basic health checks to be performed at entry and exit points to events, that no more than two people may gather within a 4sq m space, and only those who are fully vaccinated can access venues.

Pol Maj Gen Yingyot said people who break public health safety rules under the anti-Covid emergency decree could face up to two years in jail, a maximum 40,000 baht fine or both.

They are also liable for a fine of up to 20,000 baht under the Communicable Disease Control Act, he said.

The five-day-long Songkran celebrations started on Wednesday on a dull note in several tourist spots around the country, including in Chiang Mai and Bangkok's Khao San Road.

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