Mr Anutin, also the public health minister, was responding to a report that businesses in Chiang Rai were planning legal action against people who returned illegally with the virus and caused problems for other people, including damage to their businesses. They plan to demand B20 million in compensation.
“Go ahead. Sue them. They should do that,” Mr Anutin said. “They have the right to do so.”
He said the government would also take legal action against them for breaching immigration and disease control laws.
All Thai people are expected to re-enter the country through legal means, including infected people, he said.
“The problem is some of them slipped into the country illegally, not wanting to be in quarantine for 14 days. This is selfish and irresponsible on their part, and a cause of trouble for many other people,” he said.
The minister said the government knew how many Thais are still stranded abroad. “They had been told to return through legal channels. By doing so, they would be subjected to a health screening process,” he said.
He stressed that those who test negative for COVID-19 would be required to go into quarantine, while those testing positive would be taken to a hospital for treatment. “Disease control officials were ready to receive them at border checkpoints,” he said.
Asked about Thais returning from Laos, where there are entertainment complexes similar to those in Tachileik in Myanmar, a COVID-19 hotspot, Mr Anutin said authorities will make sure they are properly screened.
Asked if provinces with new COVID-19 infections will be locked down, Mr Anutin said that was not yet necessary. Those found to be infected had mostly been in close contact only with other returnees, he said.