The government today said it would not suspend the emergency decree in place since earlier this year but rather extend it until August.
Despite success in eliminating domestic transmission of the coronavirus it was enacted to fight, the decree is being extended to prevent the return of COVID-19 after the next phase of reopening the economy begins July 1, Secretary-General Gen. Somsak Rungsita of the National Security Council said.
That’s when bars, nightclubs and other nightlife venues are set to reopen with strict rules in place, some of the last business activities to remain shut down following a gradual lifting of restrictions that began in May.
The Emergency Decree has been in place since March 26, when Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha said that it was needed to prevent the coronavirus from further spreading. Tomorrow will mark three months since it was enacted to grant sweeping powers to local authorities.
Critics have accused officials of exploiting the pandemic to keep the emergency powers in place at a time of rising public dissatisfaction. Although promised only as a tool against the coronavirus, the decree has been invoked to block or interfere with several public protests.
“Extend it for the next 10 years, uncle,” Facebook user Verachai Wat wrote in response to the breaking news. “There’s no hope for Thailand’s future.”
“This is no longer about COVID-19, but it’s about the government fearing for its stability. I think they are just afraid of the student [activists],” wrote user Pajak Doungpa.