Prayut Orders Officials to Spend More Time Working From Home

PM Prayut Chan-o-cha chairs a meeting at Government House in Bangkok on May 7, 2020.

BANGKOK (Xinhua) — Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Thursday ordered all government units and state firms to have their personnel spend more time on working from home to reduce risks of COVID-19 infection and help relieve traffic congestion.

The prime minister, who concurrently acts as head of the Center for the COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA), instructed executive officials of all government agencies and state firms to manage to increase the number of weekdays from 25 percent to 50 percent for their respective officials and employees to work from home instead of leaving home for their workplaces, said an official attached to Government House.

The prime minister’s directive, issued under the sustained emergency rule, was primarily designed to meet the repeated calls of health authorities for the people to stay home in order to protect themselves from possible infection, the official said.

Prayut’s order was as well meant for the people to help lessen the daily road and rail traffic in Bangkok, its outlying provinces and other major provinces, which has apparently returned to heavy congestion, he said.

Prayut raised his concerns over the current situation in which many people have been leaving home daily, thus raising traffic jams, breaking social distancing rule and risking infection.

He also called on the private sector to follow suit by having their employees spend more time working from home whereas the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission has already provided internet access and cellphone calls for a 30-days and 45-days time free of charge respectively.

The government-run CCSA is yet to consider allowing department stores, shopping malls and trade centers to reopen later this month, following the reopening of restaurants with seating for customers in social distancing order, marketplaces, hair salons, barber shops and retail stores of consumer products and the lifting of a ban on the sales of alcoholic beverages at supermarkets, convenience stores and liquor stores earlier this month.

Any restaurants, food shops and alcoholic beverage stores, allegedly failing to observe the social distancing rule among their customers, could be immediately closed by the authorities.