Thailand could drop its face mask mandate from next month, the Public Health Ministry’s permanent secretary said.
During a press conference held in Surat Thani province, Dr. Kiattipoom Wongrachit said that Covid-19 measures could be eased in mid-June, limiting the mandatory mask use to individuals in risk groups.
The permanent secretary added that people diagnosed with underlying diseases, pregnant women and the elderly should continue to wear face masks.
Likewise, wearing masks will continue to be a mandatory requirement to enter poorly ventilated places or crowded areas.
Dr. Kiattipoom cited Thailand’s current Covid-19 situation as a reason behind the relaxation of pandemic restrictions, saying it has improved faster than expected. Today, the Public Health Ministry announced that the kingdom had logged only 5,013 new Covid-19 cases and 33 coronavirus-related fatalities in the last 24 hours.
As cases drop and people learn to live with the coronavirus, the disease is expected to become endemic as planned, Dr. Kiattipoom added. The Public Health Ministry said earlier that it intended to downgrade Covid-19 to endemic from July 1.
In the meantime, local health officials will continue to offer advice on living safely with Covid-19 to the country’s residents and visitors.
Thailand imposed a mandate to force people to wear face masks on April 29, 2022, shortly after the World Health Organization declared Covid-19 a pandemic. Those who violated the decree or failed to wear face masks faced a 20,000 baht fine for breaching disease control regulations.
After two years, Thai authorities have decided to follow in the footsteps of Indonesia, whose government announced last week that the mask requirement in outdoor spaces would be lifted.
Last month, Malaysia also removed its outdoor mandatory mask mandate, but it still requires mask wearing indoors and on public transport.
The move comes as a restoration opportunity for the Thai tourism industry, as international travelers are more interested in those countries that do not pose health or legal risks for failing to wear masks. Also, most tourists are looking for unrestricted outdoor destinations such as beaches.