The move is seen as important to the oversight of the reopening of Thai schools and ongoing quarantine efforts for incoming passengers entering the kingdom. The key committee also suggested that the extraordinary legal powers needed to be in place as the government finalises its fifth and final stage of reopenings including entertainment venues and sports stadia.
A top government committee monitoring the Covid 19 outbreak and emergency measures has recommended that the Thai government extend the current State of Emergency for a further month until July 31st next.
The decision came on Thursday and will extend the operations of the government’s Covid 19 centre and its sweeping, overarching powers across key government departments and agencies. This is the regime that has overseen the country’s fight and efforts against Covid 19 since March 26th last.
The announcement came from the Secretary-General of the National Security Council, General Somsak Rungsita.
Thailand is widely seen as having successfully countered the Covid 19 threat with only 58 deaths and on Tuesday last passed the point where the threat of a Covid 19 case of local transmission has receded due to the incubation nature of the virus and the length of time without such a case which went over 28 days.
At the end of May, the top official had indicated that he saw the measure being suspended on July 1st.
State of Emergency should be prolonged
After the committee to advise on the lockdown met on Thursday, General Somsak told the press that it had agreed to request that the Covid 19 Situation Administration Centre (CCSA) prolong the current emergency.
The move will be officially communicated to the CCSA on Monday and will then be considered by the cabinet on Tuesday, the 30th of June, for a final decision.
Important for the final stage of re-openings
He specified that a key reason was to oversee the reopening of Thai schools next week and the fifth and final stage of reopening in the domestic economy including high-risk venues.
These include entertainment venues and sports stadiums
Not in any way connected with politics
The National Security Council official underlined that Thursday’s move was not, in any way, connected to politics or political advantage.
General Somsak emphasised that the State of Emergency can be lifted on an ad hoc basis if the relevant officials deem it to be appropriate.
These statements were directed at sniping comments from some quarters among those who distrust the current administration and suggest that the powers granted to the Covid 19 centre and the Prime Minister’s office, could be used by the government to stifle political opposition and critical commentary of the government.
Protection of children as Thai schools are set to reopen cited as a key reason for the decision
General Somsak was adamant that the priority was the protection of children in the course of the coming weeks and the final stage of reopening domestic activity.
’The important thing is to contain the spread of the virus effectively and conduct as many Covid-19 tests as possible.’
Cautious note on tourism without quarantine or the implementation of ‘travel bubble’ plans
On foreign tourism recommencing with visitors being allowed to enter the country, the official struck a very cautious tone.
He explained that ‘travel bubbles’ entail incoming visitors to the kingdom without the 14 days quarantine requirement.
This could still take several months to work out between officials in Thailand themselves and participating partner countries, he suggested.
The Thai government has already confirmed, however, that the first foreign visitors can be expected in Thailand after the 1st of August.
It is being suggested that these may be from Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, New Zealand and Australia.
Negotiations are taking place with interested countries and it is also expected that visitors will be coming from cities and provinces in China where the Covid 19 virus is under control.
These tourists will be monitored using a ‘villa quarantine’ concept being developed which means they will not be required to enter the state or Alternative Quarantine system.
State of emergency essential for quarantine and the controlled entry of incoming passengers – Wissanu
The extension of the State of Emergency was held up last week by Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam as essential for the orchestration and the processing of incoming passengers to the kingdom under the Alternative Quarantine Scheme which places strict personal limits on those entering the kingdom and requires strict compliance from participating hotel and hospitals.
The continued existence of the State of Emergency if approved next week by the Thai cabinet, while it may not preclude the opening up of incoming passenger flights on a controlled basis, certainly does indicate that we will be living with a more restricted regime at least from now until August 1st.