Thailand Bans All Civilian Flights For Three Days After Arriving Thai Passengers Escape Quarantine

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The Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) has imposed a three day ban on all civilian flights effective Saturday April 4th 2020 after over one hundred arriving Thai passengers refused their quarantine orders.

Passengers were directed to board buses after arrival to be transported to quarantine facilities but instead decided to revolt with some running away.

According to news reports the quarantine officer on duty eventually allowed passengers to quarantine themselves at home rather at a government run facility after which the arrivals left the airport.

Bangkok Post reported an hour ago that the new measures are in place effective immediately, likely to give the government time to develop a seamless process to force people into controlled quarantine upon arrival.

Thailand temporarily bans all passenger flights from landing in the country to curb the outbreak of the new coronavirus, the aviation agency said on Friday.

The ban on incoming flights came into effect on Saturday morning and will run until the end of Monday, the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand said in an order published late on Friday. …

It came just hours after a commotion at Suvarnabhumi airport when more than 100 Thai nationals arrived on different flights on Friday, a Immigration Bureau officer told Reuters.

“A public health officer allowed them to quarantine themselves at home. There was a commotion because they said they weren’t aware they had to be put in a state quarantine,” the officer said.

This sounds rather calm and orderly but the news circulating in local Thai media including this video posted on Facebook tell another story.

Understandably the prospect of being moved to some Thai government run quarantine facility isn’t much to look forward to, especially as none of the passengers were informed about this ahead of time. Plenty of passengers were apparently coming back from the U.S. and other destinations. All of them are Thai nationals since Thailand has already banned the arrival of foreigners since March 25.

Here is the order (in Thai) signed by the CAAT authorities as posted by Richard Barrow on Twitter.

Essentially the order bans all incoming civilian aircraft until the end of Monday. Exemptions include state or military aircraft, emergency landing, humanitarian aid, medical & relief flights, repatriation & cargo aircraft.

Those aircraft chartered by the various governments including the Condor flights taking passengers back to Germany should therefore still be going forward.

Regular flights such as those of Qatar Airways, pretty much the only airline still keeping up a regular schedule have all been cancelled:

My guess is that the government and airport authorities want to buy themselves a little time to implement a proper channel at the airport so that nobody can escape anymore after arrival.

Conclusion

These ad hoc decisions in Thailand are really frustrating especially when it comes to things such as a quarantine in a government run facility. We’re not talking about a hotel here. Nobody told these passengers in advance they would undergo this measure upon arrival so I sort of understand their reaction.

At the same time it’s just amazing that something like quarantine is subject to negotiation with the duty officer. Either there is a policy in place or there isn’t, this decision shouldn’t be up to the officers on duty but the officials in charge of public policy.

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