Decree could be extended by a month

Decree could be extended by a month

People ride a motorbike as they wear protective face masks amid the empty ancient temples usually crowded with tourists in Ayutthaya on March 30, 2020. (Reuters photo)
People ride a motorbike as they wear protective face masks amid the empty ancient temples usually crowded with tourists in Ayutthaya on March 30, 2020. (Reuters photo)

The National Security Council (NSC) has recommended extending enforcement of the emergency decree imposed to curb the Covid-19 pandemic for another month until July 31.

The decree period is set to expire at the end of this month.

NSC secretary-general Somsak Roongsita said on Thursday they wanted the decree enforced for one more month due to continued concerns about the Covid-19 situation.

Schools across the country will start a new term on Wednesday. Businesses which pose a high risk of virus transmission, including nightclubs, will reopen if a meeting of the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) on Monday approves the latest proposal to further ease restrictions, Gen Somsak said.

Gen Somsak said the proposed extension of the state of emergency will be also decided at the CCSA meeting on Monday. It will then go before the cabinet for approval on Tuesday. Critics and the opposition have called on the government to end the decree as it gives authorities the power to stop gatherings and curb other freedoms.

Gen Somsak said the state of emergency had nothing to do with politics and it "has had no impact on people's daily lives". The decree has been extended twice since it was invoked on March 26.

Without the decree, it will be hard for authorities to enforce disease-control measures if there is a new surge in virus transmission, Gen Somsak said, adding the global pandemic situation has not improved.

Without the decree, the government will have to use five normal laws to deal with the pandemic, such as the disease control law which has a limited scope of enforcement whereas the emergency decree contains sweeping provisions allowing the government to carry out surveillance of disease control nationwide, Gen Somsak said.

"The primary aim of the emergency decree is to deal with public health concerns. It has nothing to do with politics, nor is it intended to ban gatherings," he said, adding the government has not used the decree against those involved in political gatherings during the past three months.

Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said people should know and respect the laws. If they violate the law, no matter if it is the emergency decree or any other law, they must face legal action.

Measures imposed under the emergency decree to control the spread of Covid-19 were the curfew and the prohibition of gatherings, as well as "spreading information that would cause panic".

However, a security source said yesterday that a ban on public gatherings under the emergency decree will be lifted when the new extension starts next Wednesday.


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