Prayut Hints Businesses May Not Reopen by May 1

Residents in Don Mueang district of Bangkok queue up for food donations on April 21, 2020.

BANGKOK — Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha is non-committal in reopening businesses by May 1 as speculated by some observers, saying on Tuesday there is “no rush.”

The remark came in spite of Thailand’s falls in numbers of new coronavirus infections; only 17 cases were reported today. But PM Prayut said the matter of reopening the economy must be carefully deliberated by the Cabinet next week.

“I won’t cave in to any pressure,” Gen. Prayut said, adding that he will also deliberate on the possibility of extending the Emergency Decree in the meeting.

Read: Experts Call for Safety Measures Before Reopening Businesses


Although some firms are eyeing a reopening date on May 1, including Central Group’s shopping malls, Prayut said today he has never committed himself to lifting the ban on businesses on that date.

He said lifting of lockdown measures, even when partially, may lead to a new wave of widespread infections.

World Health Organisation director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned on Monday that lockdown alone cannot end the epidemic.

“Countries must now ensure they can detect, test, isolate and care for every case, and trace every contact,” the WHO director said on Twitter.

Prayut told reporters after the cabinet meeting on Tuesday that he has never committed himself to lifting shuttered businesses on May 1. He added that despite improving situations, it’s too premature to make the decision and he will continue to monitor the situations in the coming days.


The PM insisted that premature lifting of partial lockdown could lead to a new wave of widespread infections.

As for the possible extension of the state of emergency, Prayut said the matter will also be on the table next Tuesday.

He added that the decision whether to extend the state of emergency beyond the end of April will depend on various figures related to the spread of coronavirus and the level of people’s cooperation.