MANAMA, Bahrain — A Thai singer stuck in Bahrain is asking the government to let him and dozens of other Thais stuck in the country to be allowed to return to Thailand.
Prinyar Narksiri, or “Pook” of XL Step band, along with around 50 other Thais asked the media to pass their pleas for repatriation to the Thai authorities. Prinyar said many flights were cancelled due to the virus. The government also barred commercial airlines from landing in Thailand as part of its travel restrictions.
“Since we are in the entertainment industry, everything stopped for us,” Prinyar said in a phone interview with Khaosod. “We’re ready to go home. We’re ready to go in quarantine. We’re asking Thai authorities to take us back.”
Prinyar’s next hope is the April 19 flight, but Thai government has set a quota allowing 200 Thais to reenter the country per day, a measure that Pheu Thai MP Sarawuth Petchpanomporn called “unconstitutional.”
Activists have also criticized the government for requiring Thai nationals to have embassy and health certificates for their flights home, which many say are near impossible to obtain.
Prinyar said he has already contacted the Thai embassy in Manama for help. He said his flight was cancelled just as he was going to get the Fit to Fly certificate from the local hospital.
Prinyar works as a singer at Davy Crockett’s Bahrain bar. Bahrain’s government ordered all pubs to close for a month starting in March, but the ban will be followed by Ramadan which will start on April 23, which effectively snuffs out Prinyar chances of making a living in the country. His contract was set to end at the end of April.
Prinyar said that many of his fellow Thais are running out of money fast and even lack the money to extend their visas.
“My family misses me. I’ll follow all the rules and quarantine myself for 14 days. It seems long, but I’ve been here for a year, so 14 days will be fine,” he said.
Returns of Thais from overseas have resulted in COVID-19 infections and quarantine escapes. In March, 80 undocumented Thai workers returning from South Korea evaded a checkpoint, while more than 40 men returned infected from COVID-19 from a religious pilgrimage to Indonesia.
Almost half the population of Bahrain are made up of foreigners, mostly Asians, according to the World Factbook. As the coronavirus spread, Gulf countries imposed travel restrictions and lockdowns intended to prevent more infections, marooning migrant workers and effectively choking their source of income.
The Thai Embassy in Manama barred foreigners who had visited Thailand 14 days prior from entering the country starting Feb. 22. Bahrain currently has 1,361 coronavirus cases and seven deaths, according to WorldOMeters.
XL Step is a three-man R&B band that skyrocketed to fame with their 1995 album, “3 7 21.5.” The breakout single was “Tired Heart.”
Thais Overseas Say They’re Stranded by New Virus Rule