Where does this leave the expats?

 | Thu 19 Mar 2020 16:25 ICT

CityNews – 19th March 2020, with tens of thousands of expatriates living in the north of Thailand, there is a growing sense of anxiety as the situation changes so rapidly no one really knows what is going on.

According to the Ministry of Tourism and Sports there are potentially half a million travellers who could be ‘stranded’ here in Thailand as borders begin to close off worldwide. At this point there is no directive from the immigration department as to what their status would be in terms of visas, but the Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said that they are ‘seeking a reprieve’ to offer ‘clemency’ on humanitarian reasons to allow for overstaying their visas. He also cites the need to have some tourism dollars support the local economy.

According to British Honorary Consul Ben Svasti, the British Embassy in Bangkok has been in talks with the immigration department to ask for leniency for stranded Brits, “I am afraid that I don’t have the numbers for that now, but we do know that we have 75,000 British residents here in Thailand, many of whom are also concerned about their status.”

“What also concerns me should the worst case scenario happen,” continued Svasti, “though there are no indicators at all that that will occur, is that it will be the foreign residents who will lack support. Thai society has a strong social safety net, so it is important that expats come together to support our most vulnerable. I am talking to a few groups now about setting up a support system.”

“I know people are frustrated at the lack of information, but this situation is changing so rapidly many government officials find themselves contradicting one another as information and the situation changes,” added Svasti. “So some people don’t dare say anything definitive.”

If you have any support networks or wish to volunteer and help out please contact Citylife at [email protected], we are hoping to help connect the various groups to streamline and make this network strong and effective

Ben Svasti has also set up a Facebook page aimed at providing crucial information to the expatriate population. Please visit Chiang Mai Health & Safety News and check in regularly for any updates.