Prime Minister Orders 7.5-Billion-Baht Aid For Those Affected By New Curbs

Prime Minister Plans Handout

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has insisted he is unfazed by critics of the government’s handling of the worsening COVID-19 situation after some called on him to step down.

Critics have launched a broadside against the prime minister over the latest round of restrictions which deal a blow to eateries and restaurants.

Operators complained that they were caught off-guard as the curbs were announced in the Royal Gazette at 1am on Sunday.

Under the new restrictions which took effect on Monday and last 30 days, construction sites will also close temporarily while eateries and restaurants can only provide take-away services.

Gen Chan-o-cha insisted he was not discouraged by the criticism, particularly on social media.

“I am never fazed by anything. I will do my best for as long as I can. I love the people. I want nothing from them. I will work with everyone to take care of them,” the prime minister said after a meeting of his economic team at Government House.

The government will now prioritise easing the impacts caused by the new restrictions in Bangkok and five surrounding provinces of Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, Samut Prakan, Samut Sakhon and Nakhon Pathom during the next 30 days.

A 7.5-billion-baht relief package will be expedited to help those affected by the new curbs, the prime minister said, adding that construction workers’ camps are being isolated due to numerous infections diagnosed among their workforces.

He said further relief measures will also be launched in other provinces later.

“I am very concerned about eateries, particularly small food shops. Therefore, we have sought cooperation from the Thai Contractors Association for many of those businesses to send food to construction workers’ camps to supplement their income,” Gen Chan-o-cha said.

“I assure you that the government is doing its best to look after everyone and is ready to listen to opinions from all parties involved,” he said, adding that the new relief package will go before the cabinet today.”

Thaniwan Kulmongkol, president of the Thai Restaurant Association, posted on Facebook on Monday that operators of small, medium and large eateries have been all affected. “It is like being hit several times by lightning in broad daylight,” she posted.

National Economic and Social Development Council secretary-general Danucha Pichayanan said after the prime minister’s economic team meeting that a relief package worth 7.5 billion baht had been approved for restaurants, eateries and construction businesses affected in Bangkok and the five adjacent provinces.

The package covers employers and employees both in and outside the social security system.

Of the 7.5 billion baht, 4 billion will be drawn from the 1-trillion-baht loan and the rest will be allocated from the Social Security Fund. The relief package will be presented for cabinet approval today, Mr Pichayanan said.

Meanwhile, health authorities on Monday reported 22 more COVID-19 fatalities and 5,406 new transmissions around Thailand on Sunday, bringing the death toll to 1,934 and the number of cases since the start of the pandemic to 249,853.

It was also the third-highest number of new cases to be reported in a single day in Thailand, following 9,635 on May 17 and 5,485 on 31st May.

The Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) said 5,397 of the new infections were in the general population and only nine in prisons.