UPDATE: The government has announced the first set of emergency measures regarding the Covid-19 pandemic.
BANGKOK — PM Prayut Chan-o-cha went on national TV again on Wednesday to announce that the state of emergency will formally come into effect tomorrow, but failed to say what specific measures will be taken.
In a second televised address for two days in a row, the Prime Minister urged Thais to unite against the threat of the coronavirus epidemic, but would not say how he intended to wield the powerful emergency decree, which gave him a wide range of powers from imposing curfews to censoring the media.
“The measures that would be coming out will increase in their intensity,” Prayut said. “They may affect the daily lives of everyone. I am asking for everyone to cooperate and have responsibility for themselves and others.”
He continued, “Some of you may feel they are losing their rights and liberties, but if you are strict and serious, soon we will move on from this [difficult time].”
Prayut also called upon the media to report the news “responsibly” and refrain from broadcasting false information. He also said shops selling essential goods will not be closed down.
Permanent Secretaries of the public health, interior affairs, commerce, and foreign affairs ministries will be coordinating the government’s responses to the coronavirus pandemic alongside provincial governors and the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, he said.
Prayut added that he will inform the public what restrictions the government will implement at a later time. The state of emergency will last from Thursday through April 30, though he said it could be extended.
A follow-up announcement by the government repeated the same message: informing the public that movement of people, supplies, traffic will be restricted and some areas will be closed off, without offering any specific details.
The 2005 Royal Decree of Emergency Situation grants the authorities a sweeping power including imposing curfews, shutting down buildings, searching and detaining individuals without warrants, and censoring the media and other forms of communications.