Tourism operators are urging the state to impose a two-week lockdown to keep the coronavirus from spreading to provincial areas and creating a deeper impact on the economy. It’s not too late to put the country into a complete lockdown, closing both land and air connections for two weeks or up to one month, as an urgent measure to tackle the outbreak, said Chamnan Srisawat, president of the Thai Federation of Provincial Tourist Associations (TFOPTA).
The federation plans to propose the lockdown at a meeting of all tourism-related associations today, seeking approval from other tourism businesses. Mr Chamnan said the government should impose a lockdown policy as soon as possible before the coronavirus spreads to every part of the country, particularly during Songkran. While infections have mostly clustered in the capital, authorities still have the capacity to limit the damage. But without any decisive control, the disease could spread throughout the country and more deeply impact the overall economy, Mr Chamnan said.
In addition, the government must prepare enough basic medical supplies such as face masks and hand sanitiser to protect both healthcare workers and people who live in provincial areas, he said. “The government has to ensure that tourism operators can access funding before they go out of business,” Mr Chamnan said. The TFOPTA has more than 100 members in each province, with about 10,000 members nationwide, consisting mostly of tour agents and hotels. Vichit Prakobgosol, president of the Association of Thai Travel Agents (Atta), said a nationwide lockdown to slow the infection rate is needed before the situation gets out of control. He said that while Thailand is in the second stage, many countries have already sealed their borders, meaning people cannot travel abroad automatically.