BANGKOK — Police on Friday said more than 7,000 arrests related to emergency decree violations were made over the past two weeks since the government imposed a nationwide nighttime curfew.
Police spokesman Kissana Phathanacharoen said although the number of cases have been dropping over the time, the situation reflects that many people are still unaware of the rationale behind the state of emergency. The government said the decree is necessary to deter travels and gatherings, and contain the outbreak of COVID-19.
“The reason behind the enactment of emergency decree is to prevent the spread of the disease and keep citizens in their residences,” Kissana said.
Breaching of the emergency decree is punishable by up to two years in prison or a 40,000 baht fine. Police had previously warned that they will seek maximum jail term from the court for those caught defying the measures, which include ignoring curfew and spreading false information.
However, the spokesman said 929 people were arrested as of last night alone: 820 of them were those who ventured outside during the curfew, while another group of 109 people were those who hung out in groups drinking alcohol or for illicit activities, Kissana said.
Sixty arrests were related to business operators who defied closure orders, while 39 people were busted for disseminating false information, Kissana added.
For those who are exempted from the curfew, such as medical professionals and night-shift workers, the spokesman said they can download a permission slip from the official website and present it along with their ID cards to officials at a checkpoint.
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According to the government’s response center to the coronavirus pandemic, Chonburi province ranked the highest for the number of arrests on Thursday at 76, followed by Nonthaburi at 61, Pathum Thani at 45, and Bangkok at 37. Seven provinces including Maha Sarakham, Nong Khai, and Phang Nga made no arrest yesterday.
“We can see that these provinces are familiar since they reported new cases of infection everyday,” Taweesin Visanuyothin, spokesman of the Center for the COVID-19 Situation Administration, said.
Last week, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha condemned curfew violators for lacking a social conscience, but insisted that he will not toughen restrictions since the current measures are proving to be effective.
“Those people who are lacking social conscience are making the lives of many others in misery,” Prayut said during a televised address on April 10. “However, we are not planning to extend the curfew at this moment.”
The Office of the Judiciary on Tuesday also announced that 8,515 cases related to the emergency decree, disease control act, and price control act, were adjudicated since April 3.
Despite police’s insistence to press for the maximum jail sentence for the violators, Supreme Court president Salaiket Watanaphan said judges should refrain from handing jail terms since they may carry the coronavirus to correctional institutions.
“It should be avoided to send defendants into correctional institutions since there’s a risk of infection, which can cause severe damage to the country’s healthcare system,” Salaiket said Tuesday. “They should be sentenced to fines, sentence suspensions, or detainment at other facilities instead.”