Opinion: COVID-19 is widening the rifts between Thailand’s social classes

I recently had an argument with the juristic office at my condo building. Long story short, they wanted my cleaning lady to present them with a negative COVID test result every time she comes in. She comes in twice a month, an ATK home test kit is around 350 baht, so that’s 350 baht x2 per month. Not exactly affordable for working class Thais.

My building has this policy where if you’re a maid, or a technician, you’d have to present a negative COVID test result before being allowed to enter the building. And even if you can enter the building, you’d have to use the service lift. The service lift that is used to carry rubbish down. You’re not allowed to use the same lift as the residents.

Here are a few questions (among many) that I have asked my juristic office people:

How do they know that I, a resident, am less exposed to the virus compared to the cleaning staff or technicians?

How do they know that when I bring my friends over—who are outsiders and not residents in this building—they are safer from COVID compared to the cleaning staff or technicians?

How do they know that the residents who are already back in the offices are COVID-free from their office buildings?

And what about me, when I go outside, eat at a restaurant, use the BTS, what makes me less likely to catch COVID than the cleaning staff or the technicians?

This policy, in my opinion, is a little discriminating, to say the least.

What exactly is the indicator here to prove that cleaning staff and technicians are riskier to catch COVID than people like me who have an office job? Especially in a country like Thailand where the COVID situation has been so badly handled by the government, is there actually anywhere in Bangkok that is technically “safe” from COVID?

So why do we often automatically assume that the working-class have more of a chance of catching COVID? The discrimination among “social classes” in Thailand has always been deep-rooted in the Thai society.

Personally, I think Thailand is pretty bad when it comes to coexisting with each other among different “social classes”. There’s usually no mingling between each other, and people will judge you based on what you do for a living. Of course, I know this kind of thing exists in other countries, too. But if you’ve lived here long enough, it does seem especially egregious here.

I’m quite positive that my building is not the only building in Bangkok with this kind of unreasonable policy. Especially during COVID, I’ve seen this kind of policy around a lot. In another article that I worked on that sent me to interview food delivery guys, they revealed that when they had to make a delivery at a building, the building would make them use a separate lift. Some shopping malls won’t let them in unless they take off their work jackets.

But to be fair though, how can I blame these condo buildings, or shopping malls when the government in my country still comes up with COVID-related policies that don’t make any sense as well. Why curfew at 10 PM? Why can we eat in a restaurant but we can’t drink alcohol while eating? Why do we have to keep a social distance while eating in a restaurant when we are from the same family, living in the same house, arriving in the same car?

I’m not an expert but I think discriminating against certain groups of people, or certain activities is not the solution to prevent COVID-19.

Bringing in good vaccines and vaccinating everyone as quickly as possible, or putting smart people in the parliament, might be some better solutions.

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