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Asia Minute: Thailand Considers Easing State of Emergency

AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit
Volunteer spray disinfectant on the hands of people queueing for free food in Bangkok, Thailand, Tuesday, April 21, 2020.

Different states and countries are adopting various approaches when it comes to the possibility of gradually re-opening. There’s a country in Southeast Asia whose economy is dependent on tourism, and is considering a gradual loosening of a national lockdown.

Ocean beaches, warm weather, and potential quarantines. Thailand has some similarities to Hawaii, the country’s economy counts tourism as a crucial component — one that’s shut down now.

The U.S. Embassy has posted a note on its website saying, “we strongly urge U.S. citizens to depart Thailand now, while there are still outbound flights available.”

The country has been under a national state of emergency for nearly a month, but the government is considering easing some parts of it in early May.

The overall pace of the spread of the coronavirus has slowed, new cases have dropped sharply — total cases top 2,800 — with 48 deaths. The Health Ministry says nearly half of the country’s 77 provinces have not had any new cases for two weeks.

But large clusters remain, especially in Bangkok and on the resort island of Phuket — which closed its airport two weeks ago. 

Even so, many on the island are grasping at any sign of potential positive news in the future. This week, the Phuket News published a survey of consumers in China’s largest cities about international travel.

71% said they would like to visit Thailand — a desire that’s not likely to be fulfilled anytime soon.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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