RANONG — Six people were arrested for breaking coronavirus quarantine rules and sneaking through checkpoints into a southern province under lockdown, local authorities said Monday.
Acting on a tip off last night, provincial and army officers raided a rented room in Ranong city and found six Ranong natives who worked as construction workers on Samui Island, deputy district chief Sakdinan Thammaphrom said. The group was reportedly turned away by a checkpoint for not having a health certificate.
“One of the residents notified authorities after they found strangers residing in their area, so we went there to find out who they are,” Sakdinan said. “We asked them to declare travel histories and found that they were a group of workers from Samui who had previously been turned away from the province at a checkpoint earlier.”
They were asked to sign their arrest records for defying the governor’s order, which restricts movement of people into the province. The workers were also placed under self-quarantine for the next 14 days.
They were not charged with any crime as of publication, though officials say they are weighing on filing charges.
Ranong shut its entry and exit points on April 1. Sakdinan said the six had previously attempted to enter into the province on Saturday, but they were refused since they were unable to present health certificates proving they are free of COVID-19.
“Officials at the checkpoint asked them to return to Samui on Saturday, which they complied,” the deputy district chief said. “However, it turned out that they approached the checkpoint again on Sunday’s evening, insisting on entering into the province.”
He added, “They eventually backed off, before we found them in the city a few hours later.”
One of the workers said they decided to return to their home province without permission because it’s the only choice left for them.
“We took a detour around the checkpoint because we could not return to Samui,” Roheem Meed said. “They will put us in quarantine for 14 days and there’s no job as well, so we decided that it’s better to return home.”
The southern province is one of the few in the country that have no reports of infection so far.