Whilst we might be rid of the Thailand Pass on July 1, there appears to be an administrative delay to the changes in mask requirements and changes to the closing times.
In clarifying new face mask guidelines, Dr Taweesilp Visanuyothin, the spokesperson for CCSA says that all 77 provinces in Thailand would be redesignated as green zones. Previously there were only yellow and blue zones where earlier Covid restrictions had been largely lifted.
In the new country-wide green zones, wearing a face mask outdoors will be voluntary "except in crowded places such as public transport, markets and event venues", or for people with health conditions of concern.
But, whilst the Thailand Pass is set for abolition on July 1, Dr Taweesilp says they have to wait for a publication date in the Royal Gazette… "as more government guidance is expected after the cabinet meeting this week".
Dr Taweesilp also acknowledged that private businesses, offices, or buildings were entitled to apply their restrictions.
The same clear-as-mud situation covers the revised closing times of Thailand's nightlife, which the CCSA announced last week would be moved to 2am (and 1am in 'some' locations).
In a walk back from last Friday's announcements, Dr Taweesilp says "it remains unclear when operating hours will be extended to 2am… as there are laws that cover closing hours for night entertainment venues".
Again, the CCSA is seeking clarification from the National Security Council to study the legal details of the new closing times before submitting a proposal to the cabinet.
Another one of last Friday's announcements awaiting publication in the Royal Gazette, or further discussion in Cabinet, is getting rid of the need for businesses and venues to have infra-red screen devices at their entrances.
The thermal scanning, a common sight at all building and shop entrances around Thailand since April 2020, has now been deemed mostly ineffectual.
Whilst it is hoped that all the announcements made last Friday can go ahead from July 1, they will need to be posted in the Royal Gazette first, a rubber-stamp administrative procedure in Thailand.
The Department of Alternative Energy Development and Efficiency has a brilliant solution if using cooking gas is too expensive: use a charcoal stove.
The department's official Facebook page yesterday uploaded a picture of a stove, with a caption saying 'a charcoal stove is durable, helps save money, uses less charcoal, and offers a lot of heat."
The stove in the picture is a Tao Mana Satethi, which translates as a millionaire's stove. It was developed by the Ministry of Energy and is different from a stove sold a consumer would find in a marketplace. The stove provides 29% more heat than an ordinary cooker, which could help reduce a consumer's energy bill by 500 to 600 baht per year.
And sure did cause a lot of heat.
Unsurprisingly, the post went viral on social media and Thai netizens' comments were scathing toward the Energy Ministry's promotion of the stove.
One said, "It's a kindergarten project. Please do something that looks like it came from a government agency!" Other comments followed such as: "The officers from the Energy Ministry should try it first." "Should I go into the woods and pick some wood sticks?" "Yes… let's set a fire in a condominium," and "Why do we have to pay tax to hire these people?"
Gas prices have increased dramatically from April to June this year and the price of a 15 kilogramme gas cylinder climbed from 318 baht to 363.
The Energy Policy Administration Committee announced on June 15 that the price of gas would increase further from July 1 by 1 baht per kilogramme, and a 15 kilogramme cooking gas cylinder would cost 378 baht.
In August, the price is to be increased again by 15 baht, making the cost of a 15 kilogramme cooking gas cylinder 393 baht. In September, another 15 baht rise is intended, with the price of a 15 kilogramme cooking gas cylinder standing at 408 baht.
Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwon's confidence that small political parties will support the government in the upcoming no-confidence debate appears to be misplaced.
The 76 year old leader of the ruling Palang Pracharath Party believes the targeted cabinet misters have enough support from small political parties to see off the opposition at the debate, planned for July 18 and predicted to last 5 days.
"They are on the government's side. There is no problem with that."
But General Prawit could be in for a surprise from coalition members the Setthakij Thai Party.
Setthakij Thai leader, Capt Thamanat Prompow, and its 18 MPs were all expelled by the Palang Pracharath Party for acting as renegades and time doesn't appear to be a healer in this case.
Thamanat last week insisted his party would not support the government in the upcoming no-confidence motion but hinted the party may back Gen Prawit .
"We have confidence in him. He is not the type of person some media outlets understand him to be. To be honest, all of the ministers said to be the targets should have a cause for concern, except Gen Prawit."
The no-confidence motion was tabled against the government in parliament on June 15 by core members of the opposition led by Cholnan Srikaew, leader of the Pheu Thai Party. They targeted PM Prayut Chan-o-cha and 9 cabinet ministers for their alleged mishandling of important issues and ethical code violations.
The opposition has 208 MPs within its ranks, while the government could command up to 240 votes.
There are 477 MPs and the opposition needs at least 239 if it is to defeat the government in the no-confidence vote.
Thailand's former PM Thaksin Shinawatra is the latest to weigh in on the "happy plant." In a video address to Thais last night, Thaksin compared the happy plant to opium, warning that people need "proper science and education."
He said that when opium first came on the scene, it also had many properties that people used it for, however, it was used recreationally and abused.
The former PM went on to say that when he was in police training, he had friends who used the happy plant, leading to scary situations. He said he feared that one friend would jump off a high building while intoxicated. Thaksin added that he once tried a cheaply made product in a capsule that helped him sleep, but he said it gave him bad dreams. Thaksin urged the public to know what it was getting into when it comes to the happy plant, saying that it has addictive qualities.
A controversial figure, Thaksin was known for his "war on drugs" in Thailand. During the campaign that was launched in 2003, more than 2,500 people were killed. Thaksin's government said this was largely due to drug dealers killing each other, but human rights groups said it was the result of extrajudicial police killings.
A fire in Bangkok gutted about 30 houses in the city's Pathumwan district yesterday.
Locals whose homes were burned to the ground were housed at a temporary shelter near a community centre and received relief services. Four of the locals suffered from smoke inhalation, and traffic in the area was closed to help a bedridden patient reach King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital.
According to Bangkok Governor Chadchart Sittipunt, even though the closest fire station is only about 600 metres away from the community, the area's narrow roads and lanes in the community made it tough for fire trucks to get to the scene Chadchart said, however, that firefighters were still able to reach the area quickly, putting out the fire in less than 2 hours. More than 10 fire trucks and some ambulances arrived.
Bangkok's central neighbourhood of Bon Kai, where the blaze broke out, is crowded, with about 12,000 living on about 2.4 hectares of land. Firefighters and rescuers found that the fire had started at a wooden house, and then spread to other wooden houses around it.
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