In the midst of rising COVID-19 cases, Thailand has declared on Wednesday, 25 March, a state of emergency. The declaration comes with sweeping, stringent restrictions on daily life that stop short of a full lockdown on the kingdom. The state of emergency is set to last until 30 April.
One of the primary restrictions that the decree imposes is a ban on travel to Thailand through land, air and sea. Exceptions for essential travel have been put in place, such as the transportation of goods, diplomatic transportation and foreigners with valid work permits.
The travel ban has left thousands of travellers confused and stranded at airports, as uncertainty looms over the operation of airlines. Bangkok’s immigration office also saw long lines of foreigners who hope to file for visa extensions.
Vulnerable individuals, such as the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions, have been asked to stay home. Many establishments have also been ordered closed, such as shops, restaurants nightclubs, sports venues and even playgrounds. Gatherings have been outlawed, although festive ceremonies may still push through as long as the occasion complies with the government’s rules.
“Reports of untrue news which could lead to fear” have also been outlawed with a penalty of up to two years of jail time, stoking fears that the government may be clamping down on free speech.