Public transportation could be halted, if needed

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha said after the cabinet meeting on Tuesday that all public transportation could be put on hold if the outbreak of the coronavirus worsens. The exemption of toll fees during the Songkran period has also been cancelled as the holiday is now postponed.  

“The Ministry of Transport is now considering what to do with public transportation; more bus and train routes could be reduced or temporarily cancelled,” he said. “If that is still not effective [in preventing further outbreak], there might be a need to halt all of them,” he added.

The prime minister then instructed the Ministry of Interior to clamp down on travel restrictions within the country, to and from provinces that have a high number of confirmed cases. The monitoring of alcohol sales in prohibited areas, team sporting activities, and the organized gambling groups will also intensify.

The Ministry of Commerce has also been instructed to clamp down on unfair pricing and the export of eggs, which is now prohibited. Loan sharks will be met with the maximum penalty of the law. 

He also said that delivery businesses such as LINE Man and Grab Food will be screened for infections while urging their delivery fleet to maintain appropriate distance from crowded areas when picking up products. 

“According to the law, the State of Emergency could be declared for up to three months and I want to wait for the one month assessment to come in before considering to extend it to the second or third month if necessary,” he concluded.

The cabinet on Tuesday approved a measure to increase wage compensation for workers that are registered with the Social Security Office (SSO). 

Last week, the government approved a measure to help workers that are registered with the social security system who have been laid off during the outbreak or been affected by the enforced closure of many businesses during the State of Emergency.

Under the current guidance, SSO-registered workers who have been laid off or temporarily put out of work will receive 50 per cent of their wages from the office for 180 days if their employer went out of business, or for 90 days if their employer was ordered to temporarily close down by the government. The cap was set as 7,500 baht per month.

With the approval on Tuesday, the SSO will now pay 62 per cent of their wages instead of 50 per cent, but for 90 days instead of 180 days if their employer went out of business. If their employer was ordered to temporarily close down by the government, the SSO will now pay 62 of their wages for 90 days as well.

As for the 5,000 baht hand-out scheme where more than 20 million people have registered online for the money, the prime minister said not everyone will get the money and they are now being screened for eligibility. The government is now considering an emergency loan bill to add to its relief packages but they will have to first find out where the money will come from and how to effectively use it. 

Other measures that were approved by the cabinet on Tuesday include the exemption of import duty on facemasks, medical equipment, test kits for Covid-19, and medicines that are used to treat infected patients. 

The cabinet then approved an additional budget worth 6 billion baht for the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives to help them provide soft loans for farmers that have been hit by the slowdown of demand and the drought. 

The cabinet also agreed to allow registered migrant workers from Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar to continue to stay and work in the Kingdom, without any overstay penalty, until the SOE period ends. 

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