Songkran not cancelled…yet as governor mulls over sharing list of ‘blacklisted’ travelers with public

 | Fri 6 Mar 2020 17:43 ICT

CityNews – 6th March 2020, a meeting was held at the provincial hall today with Charoenrit Sanguansat, Governor of Chiang Mai, to discuss the upcoming Songkran Festival as well as other COVID-19 related business.

The governor announced that Songkran is a longstanding cultural  tradition and at this point there are no plans to cancel it, in spite of concerns over the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

He says that the tradition in fact involves giving alms to monks, attending sermons at temples and these are activities which should not be banned. There will be public announcements and government support in terms of hand sanitisers and masks so that the public is kept as safe as possible. As to the water throwing aspect of the festival, the governor said that it was not an integral part of the tradition, but merely a component. At this point he said it was impossible to ban throwing water, but he is asking all water-related events planned to be cancelled.  

The governor went on to say that the COVID-19 situation in Thailand is at phase II, though if the Public Health Office announces that it has elevated to phase III then that would be another level of situation and a different plan will be in place.

He said that he would like to warn the public that masks will not be any protection in a water fight and that it is best to avoid playing water as there is much at risk.

As to the fear currently circulating over the number of ‘Little Ghosts’ (a term used to call illegal Thai workers in South Korea) who have recently returned home to Thailand, this matter is being addressed.

Earlier this week a story went viral when a young woman returned to Chiang Mai after working illegally in South Korea and posted pictures of herself partying around town after getting off the plane. Social media picked up on her story and became outraged that she didn’t self-quarantine. This incident then lead many people to question how many Thai Little Ghosts were returning home and how many were being responsible by self-quarantining.

The governor responded to this concern by saying that no one knows for sure how many Little Ghost have come home, but everyone coming in from such countries are being monitored. He went on to say that the Public Health Office is working alone side various airlines who are aggregating passenger lists and cooperating with the CNX AOT as well as other international airports in Thailand. It is currently being considered whether to share the list with entertainment venues as a list of ‘blacklisted’ people. Each venue can choose themselves how to deal with this situation.  The governor said that this matter is still under consideration as it could violate personal rights.