Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha slapped down a deputy health minister, denying he had approved a hard lockdown on Pattaya, Samut Sakhon and four other eastern provinces as asserted in a Monday night Facebook post.
Speaking to the media Tuesday morning, Prayut said there is no lockdown that would prohibit Thais from entering or leaving Samut Sakhon, Chonburi, Rayong, Chanthaburi and Trat, but one might be implemented if coronavirus cases continue to soar in those provinces.
Prayut – as well as Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration spokesman Dr. Taweesin Visanuyothin and the government’s National News Bureau – outright contradicted the assertions of Deputy Health Minister Satit Pitutacha, who late Monday claimed Prayut had signed off the ministry lockdown plan and that it would be formalized by the Cabinet and CCSA today.
First outlined Sunday, the plan would impose hard travel limits on Chonburi, Rayong, Chanthaburi, Trat and Samut Sakhon residents for 28 days.
Police or army units would block highways at the borders of each of the five provinces while local police would restrict access on surface streets. Checkpoint guards would block all inbound and outbound travelers who didn’t have urgent business travel approved by the government. Exceptions would be made for emergencies.
Satit wrote that he “understood significant hardship may take place temporarily on local residents but this will only be for a short period and will save hardship for the whole country”.
As the unofficial post came from his personal social media account, exact details of the plan, and confirmation that Prayut did indeed approve it in principle, were unavailable. Questions remain how public transportation would be affected and logistical issues given the country’s largest port is located in Chonburi.