Thai Public Health Minister discusses mask wearing in public and the subject of fines

National –

A fine of up to 20,000 baht for not wearing facial masks in public could depend on “individual intention”, Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul explained to the public today, January 3rd.

This followed the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA)’s public reminder on Tuesday, stating that a sweeping mask mandate in all public areas, both inside and outside, across all of Thailand remains in effect. Violators could be facing a fine from 1,000 to 20,000 baht, according to the law.

The Minister today clarified that the fine would differ depending on each violator and their intention. This also prompted the Thai Public Relations department to say there was no specific “law” around masks, which has caused widespread confusion this afternoon. (TPN notes, however, that there are emergency actions and mandates set by provincial communicable disease committees that fall under the Emergency Decree which is where the subject of fines came from. As of press time, every individual province still has a Disease Committee resolution calling for mask-wearing in all public areas which can, technically, be punished under the Emergency Decree-law in effect since April of 2020. Were the decree to be dropped then Thailand would have to either amend/strengthen current health laws, draft new ones, or drop mask rules entirely.)

“For example, the fine could be charged on a foreign tourist who did not comply with the Thai law because they argued about their liberty and freedom. That could cause a risk of the Covid-19 spread in the country while most Thai people have always cooperated to follow the public health measures strictly,” Anutin stated.

Anutin pledged to further discuss the issue with the CCSA which as tourists return, many from countries with no outdoor mask mandates, rules, laws, or otherwise, is sure to cause many further issues and debates.

TPN notes that prior to Omicron breaking out worldwide late last year the Department of Disease Control in Thailand, or DDC, was actively discussing easing mask rules for outdoor areas, especially tourism areas like beaches and parks in tourism-heavy areas like Phuket or Pattaya. This was shelved indefinitely when Omicron arrived but as Test and Go has now resumed and tourists gradually return, the discussion of masks, particularly outdoor wearing, has resumed.

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National News Writer at The Pattaya News. Born and raised in Bangkok, Nop enjoys telling stories of her hometown through her words and pictures. Her educational experience in the United States and her passion for journalism have shaped her genuine interests in society, politics, education, culture, and art.