The Thai Prime Minister, Prayut Chan O’Cha, said on his weekly podcast today, April 3rd, 2021, that he was urging Thai people to not drink alcohol and party in public places during Songkran this year and celebrate the holiday strictly traditionally, warning of the potential to spread the Covid-19 virus if people let their guard down.
Songkran, also known as the Thai new year or the water festival, officially starts as a public holiday on April 10th, 2021, until April 15th, 2021. It is the longest holiday of the year for the Thai people and the most important. It is also, however, going to look very different this year due to a ban by the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration on any non-traditional activities like concerts, water fights of all kinds, parties, non-religious parades, foam parties, non-religious festivals, etc. Only traditional activities are permitted this year, such as giving merit to temples, wearing traditional Thai outfits, showing respect to elders, and cleaning the family home. Regardless, due to it being a public holiday, millions of Thai’s are expected to travel to their provinces and homes and see their families. This is allowed, but officials are stressing caution and being safe due to Covid-19.
Songkran was canceled entirely last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic but the Thai government has allowed it to continue in a toned-down fashion, despite many economic experts saying the lack of “fun” events will be a major hit on the economy.
The Prime Minister urged Thai people that in keeping with the traditions of the festival that he was asking for people to not drink alcohol during the festival, which yearly sees hundreds of traffic accidents, primarily caused by drunk driving. Last year, alcohol sales were banned by the Thai government due to Covid-19 precautions, they will be allowed this year but authorities are warning nearly daily for people to celebrate the festival in a toned-down manner. Road checkpoints have also returned in a big way to Thailand this week as police let people know they will not be accepting drunken driving.
It remains to be seen if people will listen to the Prime Minister’s “request”.