Emergency decree may be extended despite waning crisis

Workers may be returning to offices and traffic on the rise, but curfews and other limits may remain in place for at least another month.

Saying it was necessary to keep the fading coronavirus outbreak under control, the National Security Council today proposed extending the emergency decree another month. 

Secretary-General Gen. Somsak Rungsita (that’s like a double general) said today at a meeting that the council has proposed extending it until the end of June because the COVID-19 outbreak could get worse if the state of emergency doesn’t remain in place.

Sunday will mark two months since Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha enacted the Emergency Decree, which handed absolute power to local authorities to enact curfews, limit travel, shutter businesses and censor the media as deemed necessary. It was later extended until May 31. 

Somsak said the National Security Council – not to be confused with the Council for National Security which ruled two juntas ago – would propose the extension to the COVID-19 task force and cabinet soon. 

The National Security Council’s mandate is to combat threats to national security;  Prayuth earlier this year cited threats to the kingdom from social media as one of its priorities.

People were quick to criticize the proposal as a bid to extend control over the public rather than protect its health.

“You extend it to control the people, right or wrong?” Facebook user Wicharn Yatkonburi wrote.

“You are afraid of something else. Please feel empathy for those people who lost jobs. Whatever you do, you never think how much it would affect the people. How would people living hand-to-mouth live?” Sutuch Khutchan wrote. 

Reports of new cases, which peaked in late March, have fallen into the single digits every day since April 27. Three were reported today, with no deaths logged in nearly two weeks.

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