Gov’t Bans Media From Field Report During Virus Curfew

A deserted market in Bangkok during the second night of City Hall's shop closure order on April 2, 2020.
A deserted market in Bangkok during the second night of City Hall's shop closure order on April 2, 2020.

BANGKOK — Reporters are asked not to report in the field during the overnight curfew that will come into effect tonight, deputy prime minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said Friday.

Wissanu told reporters during today’s news briefing at the government’s Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration that journalists will not be exempted from the curfew, though he said that newspaper circulation, as well as medical, banking, and logistical operations, will be allowed to continue as usual.

“No, absolutely not,” Wissanu said when a reporter asked whether the media can go out to report on the curfew. “There shouldn’t be any news during that six-hour period.”

PM Prayut Chan-o-cha announced yesterday a nationwide curfew to be imposed between 10pm to 4am starting tonight in a bid to curb the spread of coronavirus, which has infected at least 2,000 people in Thailand.

Wissanu also defended Prayut’s decision to limit his curfew order to nighttime, saying that people would be less likely to cooperate if it is imposed round-the-clock.

“COVID-19 is a virus. It doesn’t stop at night, but we have considered the necessities of people during daytime. We can’t shut them down entirely,” Wissanu said. “If we shut them down during the day, they wouldn’t listen. Therefore, we have to keep it this way to make people consider what’s happening and be more compliant with us.”

However, the deputy PM hinted that the curfew may be extended to eight or ten hours depending on the situation and its effectiveness.

“Prior to the nationwide curfew, we have experimented with some of the provinces such as the three southern border provinces, Phuket, and Bangkok to send some signal,” Wissanu said. “We hope it can limit the number of people wandering around at night because people don’t go gallivanting about during the day. They have to work.”

He continued, “But during the nighttime, people would come out as they are depressed from quarantine, so we have to keep them at home. We will also use the time to clean the streets.”

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