Thai New Year celebration postponed to fight Covid-19


Everyone loves a party, but safety supersedes a celebration. Thailand’s government has postponed the nationwide festival of Songkran, the traditional Buddhist New Year that falls in mid-April, demonstrating its commitment to fighting the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

The postponement of Songkran was part of a raft of measures the government took last week that conforms to international best practices for slowing the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The government also ordered all schools, bars, pubs, movie theaters, sporting events, and entertainment venues in Bangkok to close for 14 days.

Governors in a few other provinces, such as Chiang Mai, have followed suit, with one northeastern province, Buriram, opting for a temporary lockdown even though no cases were reported there yet.

In Bangkok, Army units were sent out in the early morning hours to clean and disinfect some streets.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has said that Thailand has not entered Stage 3, which is when community spreading takes hold. He said, however, that the government would take further actions if Stage 3 appeared imminent.

“We will be able to contain the outbreak of the virus in a few weeks, as we have a strong public health system, but we need cooperation and collaboration from various sectors, including the public,” the Prime Minister said on national television.

Songkran, which usually lasts for three days, is the biggest celebration of the year in Thailand and draws large numbers of tourists from around the world. Aside from the joy of the festival, it provides an annual boost to the economy. The postponement is an indicator of how seriously the government is taking the pandemic. Officials said they hoped to stage the holiday in June or July.

The pandemic has not hit Thailand as hard as some other countries, but the number of cases had exceeded 300 by the end of last week with just one death. The pace of infections has been speeding up, however. So the government has chosen to begin implementing more stringent steps to try and stay ahead of the pandemic, including restricting arrivals or quarantining people arriving from countries where the virus is more widespread.

All travelers now require a health certificate with laboratory test result certifying no evidence of being infected by COVID-19 and an active health insurance before they can enter the Kingdom.

Those considering visiting Thailand can stay up to date on travel requirements or restrictions by visiting: www.thaiembdc.org

Photo courtesy of https://go.ayutthaya.go.th/ข่าวประชาสัมพันธ์/สงกรานต์กรุงเก่าสุดคึก/

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