With the closure for two weeks in Bangkok of all entertainment venues and bars, with similar measures expected in Pattaya, with the cancellation of all Songkran celebrations in three weeks time, is Thailand descending into a lockdown of the Kingdom as tourists avoid the destination?
Every passing day seems to see the Thai government realizing that stricter measures are necessary to fight against the spreading of the coronavirus in the Kingdom. After restricting entries for foreign travellers with the suppression of the visa on arrival for 18 countries and the request of a health certificate attesting of the virus negative status for other travellers, Thailand starts to restrict also activities inside the country.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand recently announced to international and domestic tourists that several new measures to limit the spread of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) have been adopted on Tuesday March 17.
Measures to limit people’s movement and travel
- Thai New Year, or Songkran, holidays and celebrations, from 13-15 April, 2020, to be postponed until further notice.
- 14-day closure of universities, international schools and tutorial schools, from 18 to 31 March, 2020
- Temporary closure of Muay Thai stadiums, sports stadiums, horse race tracks, cinemas, pubs/bars and entertainment venues in Bangkok and the vicinity until the situation improves.
- The hosting of events and activities which attract large crowds; such as, concerts, exhibitions and trade fairs, and religious, cultural and sport events, will be up to the discretion of each provincial governor and the local communicable disease control office.
- Frequencies of public transport services will be increased to avoid congestion.
For venues that need to remain open, including shopping venues, markets and office buildings, the government has asked for stricter surveillance measures. Operators of shops and restaurants are also asked to implement stricter screening and cleanliness.
Many observers estimate that more destinations could put in place similar policies to Bangkok. This would be the case for Pattaya and possibly for Chiang Mai and Phuket. On Tueaday, the Governor of the province of Buriram declared a lockdown of the entire province. As Thailand recorded 177 cases of people infected with the coronavirus, a jump by 30 cases in just 24 hours time. As panic rises among locals, stringent measures are likely to be quickly adopted.