BANGKOK — Health minister Anutin Charnvirakul apologized Wednesday for a photo in which he is seen ignoring his own advice on wearing face masks during the coronavirus pandemic.
The photo posted and later deleted by Anutin on Saturday shows him and other diplomats during the Fourth of July party held by the U.S. embassy in Bangkok without their face masks. The health ministry requires visitors to all public venues to put on their masks, citing the threat of coronavirus infection.
“Sorry for letting my guard down,” Anutin told reporters. “Dear citizens, don’t let your guard down like I did. I humbly accept their criticism. I apologize. It won’t happen again.”
Anutin said that the party, held at the U.S. ambassador’s residence, had no more than 40 people at a time during the party, and everyone attending had their temperature taken at the entrance. The minister also said he left the gathering soon after paying respects to the U.S. national flag.
Anutin’s apology was a change of tact several hours after he dismissed reporters’ questions about the photo by laughing and saying “so much drama.”
The U.S. Embassy in Bangkok has not issued any statements on the matter as of press time.
Anutin has been criticized for his controversial remarks during the COVID-19 pandemic. In February, he said that farangs who don’t wear masks should be “kicked out” of the country and in March said that Western tourists were “dirty,” “never shower” and were more likely to pose health risks to Thais.