No More VIP Treatment? ‘EU Diplomat’ Tries to Skip Quarantine

Police officers talk to the diplomat on July 16, 2020.
Police officers talk to the diplomat on July 16, 2020.

BANGKOK — Management at a condominium in Bangkok said they stopped an Estonian diplomat, who recently returned from overseas, from staying at the residence and skipping a quarantine.

The argument between the condominium and the diplomat, who reportedly served in the European Union delegates to Thailand, lasted for hours, during which health officials refused to get involved. The unnamed diplomat eventually agreed to be taken to a quarantine run by her diplomatic mission as dictated by current regulations.

“The condo’s juristic person called the government hotline for advice,” management vice president Natasha Roys told the media. “But they said that it’s a matter between the juristic person and the embassy.”

“The embassy said they thought the diplomat was a VIP who could stay at the condo, but we decided not to let her in for the safety of our residents,” she said.

The incident took place at Millennium Residence Condominium. It came just days after officials let a group of Egyptian military pilots land in Thailand and bypass a state-run quarantine. One of the Egyptians later tested positive for the coronavirus, but not before he left his hotel and visited a busy shopping mall.

It is also unclear how the Estonian diplomat was allowed to leave the airport. Current health regulations require all arriving diplomatic staff to undergo 14 days of quarantine managed by the embassies they answer to.

In the wake of the quarantine blunder involving the Egyptian airmen, PM Prayut Chan-o-cha also said that he will revoke “VIP treatments” for foreign delegates.

Disease Control Department chief Suwanchai Wattanayingcharoenchai said there was a “misunderstanding” between the two parties.

“Diplomats can stay at an isolated facility designated by their respective embassies,” Suwanchai said. “If their mission does not have one, they can opt for a self-funded isolation package instead. What happened might have been a misunderstanding.”

Last week, a Sudanese diplomat was also allowed to stay in his Bangkok condo with his 9-year-old daughter after flying into Thailand. They later tested positive for the virus.

Foreign ministry spokesman Cherdkiat Atthako said officials will tighten the measures by requiring diplomats to undergo 14 days of isolation in facilities run by the government instead.

“Diplomats are not VIPs, but they are protected under the Vienna Convention,” Cherdkiat said. “We are currently transitioning to the new measures at the moment.”

The E.U. the diplomatic mission in Thailand has not issued any comment on the matter as of publication time.