The state of emergency has been confirmed so far for Mar 26-Apr 30, and may be extended further. Yet no matter what measures are doled out, they will not silence critics. If the official reports are to be believed – and we presume that at least the government believes them – the measures already in place have already made Thailand one of the safest places in Asia. The government’s own reports beg the question that if the existing measures have already contained the virus to just five deaths as of Friday (Mar 27), then why the need for the emergency powers?
Of course, the strong argument of a preventative policy is best is being advocated, and that too is difficult to argue against. But the only real measure that can be taken is an all-out ban on being in public without essential need – a real “lockdown”, not the measures taken so far that have already been given that label by enthusiastic officials and excited media.
Local officials this week finally took genuine measures to reasonably try to prevent the spread of the disease with the mass closure of venues across the island, but the big question for Phuket is whether or not they will close the beaches.
This is where all those people stuck in Phuket might relish where they happen to be trapped during this global episode – providing they don’t catch the disease while having minimal or no health coverage at all. People on the beaches this week have shown that some enjoy the social distance the sand can provide, while others plainly, and dangerously, did not. At this stage it is still a choice.
It’s no secret that the beaches are nigh sacrosanct when it comes to the island’s tourism image. People flout the law at will where they want or simply have the tacit approval of local authorities, as long as it does not interfere with the money-making lure of our shores.
Now, while we’re under siege by this virus, whether Phuket’s beaches will remain open will send a clear message as to exactly how serious officials consider the threat.