Mr MaAnn confirmed that the checkpoints that had cut off all but essential traffic from entering – or leaving – Moo 2, 3 and 5 of Cherng Talay for more than a month were removed at 00:01am Saturday (May 16).
He also confirmed that he had not received any order from provincial authorities to either maintain the lockdown or lift the restrictions.
With silence from the provincial government, he decided to abide by the previous order, he said.
The previous order had actually expired three days earlier, at midnight last Wednesday night (23:59pm, May 13).
The decision to lift the lockdown in the three areas is a turnabout on Mr MaAnn’s stance just four days ago, when he told The Phuket News that he had no authority to take any action without an order from provincial superiors.
Cherng Talay Police, who set up the checkpoints, confirmed to The Phuket News today that they had removed their officers and the checkpoints at the instructions of the Cherng Talay OrBorTor.
“Actually many officials were involved in the lockdown, but the local administrative office was the main one to manage and control [the checkpoints] ,” one Cherng Talay police officer told The Phuket News today.
Cherng Talay villages Moo 2, 3 and 5 have been under lockdown since April 13, when the island underwent its “Tambon Lockdown”, preventing any non-essential travel between any of Phuket’s 17 subdistricts. Phuket was the only province in the country to have travel between subdistricts banned to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
However, when the Tambon Lockdown was lifted on April 30, the three villages in Cherng Talay and four other areas on the island remained under lockdown as at that time there had been recently confirmed cases of people infected with the virus in those areas.
Thanit Sermkaew, Chief of the Phuket Provincial Health Office, on Monday last week confirmed that the lockdown restrictions in place in Bang Tao were set to be lifted last Thursday (May 14) – as long as there were no new confirmed infections in those areas.
Now released from lockdown orders, local residents may move freely throughout their own community, which at this stage appears to have suffered the longest continual lockdown period for a residential area in the country.
Regardless, Mr MaAnn said he is urging people to stay home as much as they can, and only venture out when they need to.
“Of course, people can go out of the area to work and make money for living. However, now that the lockdown has been lifted, people’s lives are not very different because places are still not allowed to open, and some people cannot go back to work,” he said.
“The obvious change is that a lot more cars are passing through the area, but I still want people to stay home and go out only when necessary,” Mr MaAnn added.
Meanwhile, Cherng Talay OrBorTor sound trucks today wound their way through the small streets in the villages urging people to stay indoors.
The OrBorTor sound trucks also explained that more food and relief packages for people in need were being distributed.
Any residents still needing urgent assistance were urged to call the OrBorTor’s Social Welfare Division at 076-271096-7 ext 125.