Legally, we can’t force you to do it, but do it, okay? This appears to be the message from the Thai Minister of Public Health regarding the wearing of face masks. According to a report from the National News Bureau of Thailand, Anutin Charnvirakul has confirmed that there is no legal mandate for wearing face masks…. at least that’s what he says. However, he says people should continue to wear them to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Anutin was responding to CCSA warnings that those who refuse to wear a mask could be fined. According to an order published in the Royal Gazette in June 2021, face masks must be worn in public places. First-time offenders face a fine of up to 1,000 baht and fines can be up to 20,000 baht for repeat offences. The CCSA recently posted a message on Facebook, reminding the public of the sanctions, but has since deleted the message.
Yesterday in a meeting with Thai media, a reporter mentioned CCSA’s facebook post about the mask mandate and asked if foreigners would be subject to these penalties for not wearing a mask in public? Anutin responded by saying he was unaware of the mask’s mandate and that the CCSA never shared the information with him.
(Translated from Thai) “I still didn’t know much about the details. There is still no report to the MOPH at this time. It is to be rethought. In my opinion, people should wear masks at all times. If the inhabitants all agreed to do it, that’s fine. But if someone claims they want the freedom that will affect others, the measure should be considered effective…
… Some foreigners don’t want to wear a face mask. As in Koh Samui, there is a report that Thai people are willing to wear face masks. However, some foreigners don’t want to wear it maybe because of the different culture. Therefore, the subject must be discussed during the CCSA meeting.
He says his ministry and other related bodies have not confirmed this and the matter needs to be discussed further. Although he views face masks as a valuable disease prevention tool, Anutin says the app wouldn’t be necessary if everyone wore one.
The Minister of Health said he plans to discuss this issue with the CCSA, adding that while wearing face masks may not be mandatory in their home country, visitors to Thailand should follow. public health regulations while in the kingdom.
Anutin made headlines here and abroad at the start of the pandemic when he berated foreigners (aka “dirty farangs”) for not wearing face masks. His comments were apparently fueled by a loss of face as bewildered strangers refused free masks he was handing out as part of a public relations stunt at a Bangkok train station. He then went so far as to suggest that foreigners be forced out from the country. His tirade has gone viral with many blaming his comments for a disturbing wave of xenophobia which emerged soon after.
According to a report by Thailand’s National Information Bureau, when asked if Thailand would introduce stricter measures if the number of daily cases hit 10,000 again, Anutin said the situation was one of the many scenarios considered by the Department of Disease Control. If the number of hospitalized or seriously ill patients does not increase and people continue to get vaccinated, he does not see stricter measures being introduced at this time. However, he urges everyone to be on guard and for the country to step up to curb the spread of the virus.
THE SOURCE: National Information Bureau of Thailand