Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said the photo was taken during a 30-minute break at a national park before Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha left for the airport to welcome tourists.
He insisted the prime minister and the others, who were fully vaccinated, spent only half an hour in an open-air area where they were served coffee and snacks.
Several netizens slammed the officials for not wearing face masks and eating together, saying they did not follow social distancing measures that are recommended for those living in the same house.
The other controversial photo featured Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, Minister of Tourism and Sports, delivering an opening address at a party in which alcoholic beverages were served. A stage sign read: “Welcome Dinner Phuket Sandbox”.
Mr Phiphat said yesterday (July 2) the welcome party, hosted by the Board of Trade of Thailand, proceeded under COVID-19 control measures.
He said Phuket is classified as a green zone province where activities with no more than 200 people are allowed.
A total of 180 people, all fully vaccinated, attended the party which wrapped up before 11pm, Mr Phiphat said.
He also warned people against spreading false news which could undermine public confidence.
“The party didn’t violate the province’s orders and it was organised in line with COVID-19 measures. People should be careful about spreading fake news. We all want Phuket Sandbox to work out and restart the tourism industry,” Mr Phiphat said.