Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated the photo caption as April 8, 2020. In fact, the date was April 8, 2018. We regret the error.
BANGKOK — Thais are advised to break with a centuries-old tradition and refrain from visiting their families and elderly relatives for this year’s celebration of Songkran, the government said Friday.
Members of the public are also asked to refrain from organizing parties or holding any kind of festivity to mark Songkran, or Thai New Year, the government said. The authorities already cancelled public holidays for Songkran, which falls on April 13 to April 15, to deter traveling during the occasion.
Gathering in groups to drink alcohol could lead to prosecution, government spokesman Taweesin Visanuyothin said.
Police spokesman Col Kissana Phathanacharoen also said on Friday by phone that any action that risks spreading the infections during Songkran is against the emergency decree, and violators face up to two years of imprisonment.
Kissana acknowledges that there is yet to be a clear guideline as to what size of gathering for drinking or partying violates the law.
“There should be a guideline soon,” the police colonel said. “As to a gathering of how many people are considered illegal, we must look at the intentions and what it is for. Is it necessary?”
Supreme armed forces commander Gen. Ponpipat Benyasri, who is in charge of security under the Emergency Decree, said Friday that people should follow government instructions and refrain from traveling.
Fifteen provinces are currently in travel lockdown or similar measures, including Phuket, Pattani, Yala, Songkhla, Nan, Trat, and Trang.
Waterfights, a tradition associated with Songkran, are also discouraged this year. Gen. Pornpipat said the number of new infections is getting smaller, but people should still practice social distancing while the pandemic is ongoing.