The Thai Government in conjunction with border control and Immigration is working with Myanmar officials to encourage and help legally bring back Thais in Tachiliek, Myanmar, which is currently having a Covid-19 outbreak.
Tachiliek is located on the border of Thailand and Myanmar and is just North of Mae Sai. Over the past week the border town has had an outbreak of Covid-19, with 55 recorded cases as of today, December 3rd, 2020, and as a result many Thai nationals who had been working in the entertainment sector of the city have returned to Thailand illegally trying to avoid a fourteen day quarantine. Subsequently, ten of these returnees have later been found positive for Covid-19 in Thailand, leading to concerns about the outbreak possibly spreading into Thailand. So far, no locally spread cases have come from the ten women, although all ten are considered domestic cases having been found in Thailand but originated in Myanmar.
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As a result, Thai and Myanmar authorities have been working on strict public messaging that all Thai nationals MUST go through the legal process to return. In addition, the Thai military has stepped up patrols and border security and warned that people who are caught entering illegally will face draconian and harsh Emergency Decree laws well beyond regular illegal entry laws that could see one face years in jail and hundreds of thousands of baht in fines. A softer messaging of “protect your family, country and loved ones” have also been delivered by authorities to those still in Tachiliek, encouraging them to return for free legally and protect their country.
Yesterday, December 2nd, 2020, 31 Thai people in Tachiliek legally returned at the border through an expediated process to enter the country. Previously, the process involved visiting embassies, getting a variety of paperwork and other “hoops.” All of those who enter the country will face a fourteen day quarantine and multiple Covid-19 tests.
Additionally, Thai authorities at the Mae Sai border have stated they have identified and been reaching out to as many as one hundred Thai women still in Tachiliek who worked in the entertainment industry, encouraging them to legally return and go through the proper process. Border patrol units also released a public warning that any people who entered illegally must get tested and “turn themselves in” immediately if are they in Thailand. It is unclear if they turn themselves in if they will have amnesty from legal charges, The Pattaya News notes.
Thai Authorities including the Minister of Public Health Anutin Charnvirakul have stated that at the women already caught in Thailand with Covid-19, especially those who went to public places and events while symptomatic, will likely face significant legal charges.