BANGKOK — Thailand woke up to the first day of a state of emergency on Thursday, with several travel restrictions in place to make journeys more difficult in an effort to stem further spread of coronavirus in the country.
Following the announcement of the emergency decree on Wednesday, 357 checkpoints manned by security forces and civilian officers were set up across the country, especially the capital, to check travelers for symptoms. Many transport operators also ceased their services, from buses and boats to airplanes.
Although commuting between provinces is still allowed, the government has made it clear that it is deliberately making it more complicated to do so.
“People can still travel, but there will be measures imposed on travelers which will make travel more difficult and eventually discouraging them from doing so,” deputy PM Wissanu Krea-ngam said. “Police and soldiers will set up checkpoints at provincial borders to see whether the measures are followed.”
Wissanu said travelers are required to carry their ID, fill in forms to track them in case they are later found to be infected, and have their body temperature checked.
In Bangkok, seven checkpoints were set up at the edges of Bangkok’s provincial border on Chaengwattana Road, Suwinthawong Road, Soi Kanchanaphisek 39, Sukhumvit Road, Ratchaphruek Road, Suksawat Road, and Soi Rama II 92.
Thai sea, land, and air borders are also closed to all foreigners except goods transportation crews, diplomats, and work permit holders. Thais returning to the kingdom are required to present a certificate from Thai embassy and health certificates upon their departure.
Here’s the list of travel disruptions during the enactment of emergency decree as of March 26.
Private car – No travel restrictions, but travelers are required to comply with officers at checkpoints.
Bangkok buses operated by the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority (BMTA) are running as usual. However, privately-owned buses will operate at limited service due to low ridership, Witthaya Premjit, head of private bus operator association, told INN news agency.
Long-distance buses – The Transport Co. announced that it will pause ticket sales for all destinations from March 26 to April 30. Intercity buses will continue to run for passengers with a valid ticket, but they will be required to wear masks and sit separately while using the service.
All international routes were suspended from March 25.
Private operators such as Nakhonchai Air and Sombat Tour will continue to operate, but advance ticket sales will be ceased. Passengers must come to the bus terminal to purchase a ticket, which will be sold day by day.
BTS, MRT, Airport Rail Link – All metro lines are operating as usual, except the MRT Purple Line where trains will not be stopping at Nonthaburi Civic Center station from March 26 until further notice after a station staff was infected.
Passengers are required to wear masks while using the service.
Reusable cloth masks are sold at BTS Mo Chit, Phaya Thai, Victory Monument, Siam, Asoke, and Sala Daeng stations; and MRT Sam Yot, Sukhumvit, Phetchaburi, Phra Ram 9, Silom, Chatuchak Park, Bang Wa, Lak Song, Wat Mangkorn, Bang Son, and Talat Bang Yai stations.
SRT Trains – All rail lines are operating as usual, except weekend excursion trains to Nam Tok (River Kwai Bridge), Suan Son Pradiphat (Hua Hin), and Ban Plu Ta Luang (Pattaya); and transboundary trains to Laos and Malaysia.
Ticket sales are still available online and at ticket offices. Passengers are required to wear masks while using the service.
Chao Phraya Express Boat announced that it will suspend the service on weekends and public holidays from March 28 to April 30, while Saen Saep Express Boat will begin total suspension on March 27 until further notice.
Thai Airways has suspended flights on all Asia-Pacific and European routes starting from March 25 until further notice except Munich (Germany) and Zurich (Switzerland). One can only wonder why those exceptions were made.
All domestic routes will be taken over by its subsidiary Thai Smile Airways from March 25.
Passengers holding Thai or Thai Smile codeshare air tickets issued before March 25 are eligible to convert their tickets to travel vouchers valid for one year.
Thai Smile Airways, Bangkok Airways, Thai AirAsia, Nok Air, and Thai Vietjet Air are operating their domestic flights as usual, though some flights may be canceled. All international routes are suspended.
Thai Lion Air announced Friday that it will ground all domestic and international flights starting March 25. The airline planned to resume the service on May 1. Passengers can request for a full refund or rescheduling without fees at the airline’s contact center.
Update: This article has been updated after Chao Phraya Express Boat managing director Charoenporn Charoentham said Thursday afternoon that it will continue the service on weekdays.