Other places around the world, most of them with more densely populated areas than Phuket, have been under lockdown for a month. Some places even longer.
The major nationwide restrictions are being considered in Bangkok. Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha yesterday (Apr 20) made it plain the he does not want to see any lockdown restrictions lifted without discussing with leading industry figures the extent of the impact on the economy the lockdown is having, and discussing with senior health officials whether easing restrictions is appropriate, and if so, which restrictions should be lifted.
But Phuket is subjected to a raft of extra restrictions. For example, in Phuket in addition to the national nighttime curfew from 10pm to 4am, we are under a ban on all non-essential travel to even other subdistricts (“tambon”), and a slew of other restrictions, including a ban on even going to the beach. No such ban exists in Phang Nga, immediately north of Phuket.
If the official figures are to be trusted, Phuket officials are already reporting far fewer confirmed cases of people infected with COVID-19 than initially predicted, suggesting that the lockdown restrictions are working.
The initial predictions of Phuket recording 404 confirmed cases by April 19, and 677 cases by April 24, are far above the number of actual reported cases, which as of today (Apr 21) stand at 193 – less than half.
Yet the lockdown is taking its toll in many ways. Mental and emotional stress caused by financial hardship is already among the poor communities across the island, and people rushing and creating a crowd just to get free food in Phuket Town does not help.
All this begs the question whether officials should lift the lockdown come April 30, as currently ordered by Phuket Governor Phakaphong Tavipatana – who stands to be replaced the instant his transfer out of the province is confirmed by publication in the Government Gazette – or whether the restrictions should be just eased for now, or remain in force further as a precaution against a “second wave” of infection.
To all this, we ask our readers in our latest online poll: “Should the Phuket lockdown restrictions be lifted on April 30?”
Responses available in the poll are as follows:
- No – keep ALL lockdown restrictions in effect after April 30. The situation is far from over.
- No – Keep MOST of the lockdown restrictions in force until the situation improves further, but start gradually lifting restrictions that do not directly prevent the spread of the virus (open the beaches, start opening various businesses, lift the alcohol ban).
- Yes – Lift MOST restrictions on April 30, except the absolutely crucial ones, such as no mass gatherings and the closure of all entertainment venues.
- Yes – Lift ALL the restrictions altogether on April 30. A major outbreak has already been avoided. The rest of the infections will be those that cannot be contained anyway.
To vote in the poll, click here.
If your preferred response is not available, feel free to add it in the comments below.
The poll will remain open until midnight, April 29.