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  • Dept Of Land Transport Comes To Rescue Of Law-Flouting GrabBike
    A joint committee is working to save the GrabBike (Win) service, which is closing down due to a legal violation, says a Department of Land Transport (DLT) notice. The panel, represented by the DLT, Royal Thai Police, Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) and Internal Security Operations Command, will talk to GrabBike (Win) and try to figure...

    A joint committee is working to save the GrabBike (Win) service, which is closing down due to a legal violation, says a Department of Land Transport (DLT) notice.

    The panel, represented by the DLT, Royal Thai Police, Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) and Internal Security Operations Command, will talk to GrabBike (Win) and try to figure out a way to keep the service operating and within the bounds of the law, it said.

    The motorcycle taxi service of the popular ride-hailing app is coming to an end as Grab Thailand has notified its drivers, indicating the firm will terminate contracts with those who use motorbikes that are not registered for public transport services by July 15.

    Worachat Luxkanalode, executive director at Grab Thailand, said the move could affect tens of thousands of drivers, who will lose their income.

    The joint panel is taking into consideration the need to cater to public demand for public transport while bringing services under proper regulation to protect the safety of commuters, said the DLT announcement.

    Regulation will also ensure fair competition among app-based, ride-hailing service providers. Many companies have been open to requests to legalise their services since last October and so far two have been approved — the Hello Phuket Service and Bonku.

    As for GrabBike (Win), motorcycles registered as private vehicles were being used to shuttle passengers, in contravention of the law that requires public transport vehicles to be specially registered for the purpose.

    The way the company calculated fares also failed to comply with the law, according to the DLT. The department said it has granted GrabBike (Win) some time to resolve its motorcycle registration and fare-related problems.

    The agency said if the registration issue is not tackled, the company should switch to transporting food or parcels instead.

    Using lawfully registered motorcycles as taxis would also reduce the conflict between GrabBike riders and drivers who operate using taxi driver queues.

    24 June 24 2022
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    https://chiangmaione.com/?p=16620
  • Face Mask Mandate Lifted
    The government has lifted its face mask mandate and advised vulnerable and infected people to still use masks for the sake of personal and public health. The decision was made due to the improving Covid-19 situation and intended to let people resume virtually normal lifestyles, according to the government announcement published in the Royal Gazette...

    The government has lifted its face mask mandate and advised vulnerable and infected people to still use masks for the sake of personal and public health.

    The decision was made due to the improving Covid-19 situation and intended to let people resume virtually normal lifestyles, according to the government announcement published in the Royal Gazette on Friday.

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    The use of face masks is now voluntary, but is recommended to prevent infection by respiratory diseases including Covid-19, the announcement said.

    The Public Health Ministry advised people to continue to wear masks in crowded or poorly ventilated places.

    Vulnerable people, mainly the elderly and those with underlying illnesses, should wear face masks while staying with others to reduce the risk of infection because catching Covid-19 could jeopardise their life.

    Covid-infected people or those in close contact with Covid-19 cases should wear face masks to reduce transmission risk, the announcement said.

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    24 June 24 2022
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  • Thai Fugitive In Taiwan Murders Surrenders In Chiang Mai
    The prime suspect in the murder of a Thai couple in Taiwan, his business partners, surrendered to police in Chiang Mai province on Friday morning. Santi Supa-apiradeepailin, 35, was handed over to crime suppression police by his 63-year-old father and other relatives at the 335th border patrol police division in Chiang Dao district about 8am....

    The prime suspect in the murder of a Thai couple in Taiwan, his business partners, surrendered to police in Chiang Mai province on Friday morning.

    Santi Supa-apiradeepailin, 35, was handed over to crime suppression police by his 63-year-old father and other relatives at the 335th border patrol police division in Chiang Dao district about 8am.

    The suspect was immediately taken to Bangkok. His surrender ended a police manhunt and extended negotiations with his relatives and friends.

    Mr Santi is wanted in Taiwan for the murder of Prasert Norat, 32, and his 35-year-old wife Potjanee, who was five months pregnant with twins.

    The victims’ bodies were found in their BMW X4 vehicle parked outside Taoyuan high-speed rail station near Taipei last Sunday.

    Mr Santi was seen in security camera footage on June 8, when the three had an appointment. The suspect drove their BMW to the train station in the early morning of June 9.

    The suspect arrived in Thailand later on June 9, landing at Suvarnabhumi airport, and immediately went to Chiang Mai.

    It was reported that Mr Santi and the murdered woman were childhood friends.

    Taiwan media reported that the victims were beaten to death elsewhere. The vehicle had a strong smell when the bodies were found. Police said the victims had both been beaten about the head.

    Investigators suspect a conflict over a series of loans made to Mr Santi led to the murders.

    17 June 17 2022
    Chiang Mai
    https://chiangmaione.com/?p=16613
  • All Business & Activities To Resume As Whole Country To Be Declared Green Zone
    The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration on Friday agreed it was time to declare the whole country a green (surveillance) zone where all business and other activities could resume, probably from July 1, the CCSA spokesman said on Friday. Taweesilp Visanuyothin said they agreed to the proposal from the Public Health Ministry. Officials were expected...

    The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration on Friday agreed it was time to declare the whole country a green (surveillance) zone where all business and other activities could resume, probably from July 1, the CCSA spokesman said on Friday.

    Taweesilp Visanuyothin said they agreed to the proposal from the Public Health Ministry. Officials were expected to conclude details to allow a nationwide green zone from July 1.

    Dr Taweesilp said people would be able to take off face masks when they were in open-air places and during activities or work where masks were not normally required.

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    Alcohol consumption at eateries would return to pre-Covid hours, but disease control measures would still be enforced

    Restrictions would also end for entertainment places and the transport of migrant workers.

    Thermal scanning for a fever would be unnecessary, except in at-risk or outbreak areas.

    Antigen testing would be required only at gatherings of more than 2,000 people or for people with respiratory symptoms.

    Use of the Thailand Pass would also probably end.

    Dr Taweesilp said the local Covid-19 situation was improving and on the way to the country entering a post-pandemic era on July 1.

    He said that from June 1-15 there were 348,699 foreign arrivals, with the largest numbers coming from Malaysia (61,486), India (51,800), Singapore (31,580), Vietnam (18,885) and America (15,708).

    Thailand ended mandatory quarantine for unvaccinated or only partially vaccinated foreign arrivals on June 1.

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    17 June 17 2022
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  • Proposal To Ease Visa Rules Put Forward
    Tourism operators have reached an agreement with the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) to propose a visa fee exemption for international arrivals and an eligibility extension for visitors from nations not requiring a visa to enter the country from 30 to 45 days during the second half of this year. A joint meeting between the...

    Tourism operators have reached an agreement with the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) to propose a visa fee exemption for international arrivals and an eligibility extension for visitors from nations not requiring a visa to enter the country from 30 to 45 days during the second half of this year.

    A joint meeting between the TAT and more than 100 representatives from 10 tourism associations yesterday ended with five proposals that are expected to be presented to the subcommittee of the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) next week.

    “All tourists should have been treated on an equal basis. If possible, we should also provide a fee waiver for multiple entry to allow them to visit neighbouring countries during the same trip,” said Bhummikitti Ruktaengam, president of the Phuket Tourist Association.

    “This could be a good opportunity for us to lead the reopening of CLMV.” The CLMV countries are Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam.

    At present, Thailand grants a visa exemption to 56 countries whose citizens don’t have to apply for a visa or pay the 1,000-baht fee, but the stay is limited to 30 days.

    However, most countries, including potential markets such as India, still require visitors to apply for a visa and pay an application fee for a stay of no more than 60 days.

    The visa-on-arrival (VOA) option, which is the leading choice among visitors who do not wish to deal with the inconvenience of visiting a Thai consulate, costs 1,500 baht. However, this option only allows a visitor to stay in Thailand for a maximum of 15 days.

    The 30-day limit may be insufficient for the current environment as tourists nowadays wish to take longer trips, as seen by the increase in average spending per visitor from 47,000 baht to 77,000 baht, said Yuthasak Supasorn, governor of the TAT.

    He said among high-spending tourists the visa fee amount may be insignificant, but if they can save on this cost, it would leave them more money to spend while travelling around the country, which would directly stimulate the local economy.

    As the government previously extended the right to remain in the country from 30 to 45 days during the period when quarantine was required, if tourism operators want to seek another extension, it should not be an obstacle, said Mr Yuthasak.

    “We totally agree with the proposal to waive the visa fee for those who must apply for a visa, in addition to extending the length of stay for both visa-free countries and the VOA,” said Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi, president of the Thai Hotels Association.

    “The longer they stay, the more they can spend more locally.”

    In addition to visa issues, the private sector also agreed to ask the CCSA to lift restrictions on night entertainment hours by returning to the same practices adopted by each area before the pandemic.

    They also support the idea of promoting Thailand as a mask-free destination by revoking the mask mandate in all areas.

    Masks can be suggested for congested spaces or indoors. Private operators, such as hotels or restaurants, can make their own decision on whether to require their staff to wear a mask, according to the meeting.

    Most representatives also agreed with the Tourism and Sport Ministry’s proposal to cancel the Thailand Pass system, meaning the only requirements for visitors to the country would be vaccine certificates and insurance.

    Temperature checks at all locations should be halted as experience has shown this measure cannot practically identify those infected with the virus, said the representatives.

    12 June 12 2022
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    https://chiangmaione.com/?p=16608
  • NBTC Wants Some Shows Maskless
    The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) will propose next week a no-mask policy be applied during the filming of game and variety shows. NBTC member Pirongrong Ramasoota said the proposal will be submitted to the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) for its meeting on June 17. Ms Pirongrong said operators have been complying...

    The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) will propose next week a no-mask policy be applied during the filming of game and variety shows.

    NBTC member Pirongrong Ramasoota said the proposal will be submitted to the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) for its meeting on June 17.

    Ms Pirongrong said operators have been complying with Covid-19 protocols in accordance with Ministry of Public Health’s preventive measures.

    However, now that the country is preparing to transition from pandemic to endemic status the NBTC has tweaked its working guidelines for the industry.

    She said the updated guidelines include scrapping antigen testing and temperature checking, in addition to changing social-distancing measures and risk management plans for production crews.

    However, operators have also asked that the face mask rule be eased during the filming of variety and game shows on the condition that regular Covid-19 screening continues.

    News programme hosts also have called for a no-mask policy with partitions installed between programme participants.

    Diao Woratangtrakul, secretary of the association of digital television broadcasting, said the industry has given top priority to health safety and many operators have adopted regular antigen testing every three days while also observing social distancing.

    “If actors in drama shows can remove face masks, those participating in other shows also should be able to do so,” he said.

    Dr Wanna Harnchaoworakul, a specialist at the Department of Disease Control (DDC), said face masks are the most effective tool for preventing the spread of the virus and so are likely to be among the last Covid-19 restrictions relaxed.

    She recommended the NBTC draw up Covid-19 preventive measures for the industry and submit them first to the Ministry of Public Health.

    As things stand, the NBTC will submit proposals from television operators during a meeting with the DDC before forwarding the proposals to the CCSA for review on June 17.

    Meanwhile, Chiang Mai governor Prachon Pratsakul said the province is awaiting any change in CCSA policy regarding face mask-wearing, saying the province is fully prepared for an easing of the rule.

    12 June 12 2022
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    https://chiangmaione.com/?p=16605
  • Experts Raise Cannabis Concerns
    Concerns over the recreational use of cannabis have been raised following the plant’s decriminalisation, with doctors citing problems surrounding a lack of proper regulations. Chanchai Sittipunt, dean of Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Medicine, said he is concerned about youths having easy access to cannabis as there is currently no law prohibiting underage use. Advertisement “It...

    Concerns over the recreational use of cannabis have been raised following the plant’s decriminalisation, with doctors citing problems surrounding a lack of proper regulations.

    Chanchai Sittipunt, dean of Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Medicine, said he is concerned about youths having easy access to cannabis as there is currently no law prohibiting underage use.

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    “It is a bit late to wait for [the Cannabis and Hemp Act] to be passed,” he said. “Because right now, anyone can buy and sell cannabis anywhere.”

    Although the purpose of decriminalising cannabis is geared towards medical use and the economy, people are likely to mix cannabis in food or come up with products which unsuspecting people may consume.

    Dr Taejing Siripanich, secretary-general of the Don’t Drive Drunk Foundation, told the Bangkok Post that he is concerned about road accidents caused by motorists under the influence of cannabis.

    “I’m concerned about the repercussions of consuming cannabis while driving a vehicle as it will affect driving capability,” he said.

    “We have campaigned [against drunk driving] for more than 30 years, but daily accidents still happen because of drunk driving.”

    “Now we have ganja, and we do not have a law to [control it],” he added. “I think the punishment should be heavier than the one given to those driving under the influence of alcohol.”

    Rasmon Kalayasiri, director of the Centre for Addiction Study at Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Medicine, said she has not seen any measures to help prevent the abuse of cannabis.

    Moreover, there is no law nor regulation controlling cannabis use in food, she said, noting that excessive amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in cannabis, mixed in ordinary food can make people intoxicated.

    “What I am concerned about the most is cannabis use among adolescents as it is toxic and could damage brain cells,” she said.

    “There is no clear evidence proving that cannabis use is a [gateway drug] but parents should pay attention to their children [by encouraging them] to stay away from the plant.”

    She said her team found that the government’s cannabis policy has encouraged youths to use cannabis.

    The study found that 1% of adolescents used cannabis in 2019 but the number increased to 2% in 2020 and 2.5% last year.

    Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has also expressed concerns over the use of cannabis, saying the decriminalisation of the plant is not for recreational purposes.

    Government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana said the prime minister has heard the concerns and suggestions of many sectors over the matter.

    He said Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul — who spearheaded the kingdom’s cannabis decriminalisation bid — is chairing a panel discussing the national cannabis policy to ensure its use stays in line with the government’s medical purpose plan.

    “The premier has reiterated [the plan] to building an understanding that cannabis [decriminalisation] is not for recreational purposes,” Mr Thanakorn said.

    “The government must reduce people’s concerns as [cannabis] will impact health.”

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    12 June 12 2022
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  • Medics On Alert For Status Shift
    The Ministry of Public Health is urging medical staff nationwide to draw up plans so they are fully prepared to deal with Covid-19 after it is declared an endemic disease. It is also asking the public to get a booster shot to stay safe. Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul yesterday declared...

    The Ministry of Public Health is urging medical staff nationwide to draw up plans so they are fully prepared to deal with Covid-19 after it is declared an endemic disease. It is also asking the public to get a booster shot to stay safe.

    Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul yesterday declared his ministry’s determination to “move on”, that is to downgrade Covid-19 and allow people to return to normal life. He did not give a specific time frame.

    Speaking after presiding over an event titled “Move On From Covid-19, Spend Life With Confidence” held on Vibhavadi Rangsit Road, Mr Anutin read out a message to all health inspectors and personnel.

    In it, he asked to prepare sufficient medical treatment, hospital beds, medical supplies and equipment and vaccines to reassure the public that they will get adequate care.

    “They should also come up with plans for when Covid-19 is designated an endemic,” he said.

    Mr Anutin said the ministry is concerned as the target of administering boosters to 60% of the population remains far from being met.

    As such, he urged those who have not yet received one to do so as soon as possible.

    He said all Covid-19 vaccines procured by the government are safe and effective. Currently, there are around 20 million doses available for those in need.

    Mr Anutin said the Covid-19 situation is improving with the number of new daily infections dropping below 3,000 and fatalities under 30 in recent weeks, thanks to the public’s compliance with the ministry’s health guidelines.

    The Public Health Ministry has worked hard to educate the public on how to protect themselves against the virus, he noted.

    “Endemic doesn’t mean the disease is no longer serious. This will be with us throughout our lifetime. We have to know how to stay safe and avoid all infection risks,” Mr Anutin said.

    “There are still many people who have not been vaccinated,” he added.

    9 June 09 2022
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  • Thousands Of Cannabis Offenders Being Released
    More than 4,200 inmates serving sentences for cannabis offences were initially eligible for release from prisons nationwide on Thursday, when the delisting of cannabis as a narcotic drug took effect. However, those also convicted and sentenced for other offences were not being freed. Corrections Department deputy director-general Thawatchai Chaiwat said assistance was being provided to...

    More than 4,200 inmates serving sentences for cannabis offences were initially eligible for release from prisons nationwide on Thursday, when the delisting of cannabis as a narcotic drug took effect.

    However, those also convicted and sentenced for other offences were not being freed.

    Corrections Department deputy director-general Thawatchai Chaiwat said assistance was being provided to inmates in cannabis cases, regarding their release or changes to their penalty.

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    Lists of inmates who were already surveyed had been sent to the various courts, for their release,

    A total of 3,071 prisoners serving jail terms in single cannabis offences would be released from prisons nationwide on Thursday, Mr Thawatchai said.

    In Nakhon Sawan Central Prison, for example, 10 inmates serving jail terms for cannabis offences were eligible, but none were released. The atmosphere at the prison remained quiet.

    The Public Health Ministry has announced that the removal of cannabis and hemp from the category 5 drug list is effective from Thursday, June 9.

    Nakhon Sawan Prison chief Supachok Khuanruechai said on Thursday that the prison had coordinated with the provincial court on the number of inmates serving cannabis-related sentences who would be released under the new legislation.

    There were 17 prisoners. One was recently transferred to Phetchabun province to pay a fine. Six others were already released, leaving 10 inmates serving jail terms for cannabis offences.

    However, those inmates could not be released because they were also convicted and sentenced for other offences, Mr Supachok said.

    Narcotics Suppression Bureau director Pol Gen Roy Ingkapairote, a deputy national police chief, said on Thursday that more than 4,200 prisoners in cannabis cases would be eligible for release. Cases pending investigation would also be dropped, and arrest warrants issued for cannabis use would be revoked, he said.

    Cannabis is no longer an illicit drug. A Ministry of Public Health announcement published in the Royal Gazette on Feb 9 took effect on June 9. This means the production, import, export, distribution, consumption and possession of cannabis for health and medical purpose is formally legalised.

    However, possession and use of extracts with more than 0.2% THC, and public recreational use of the drug, remain illegal.

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    9 June 09 2022
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  • Two New Lotteries To Launch This Year
    Two new government-run lotteries will be launched this year in a fresh bid to stamp out illegal lotteries and overpriced tickets, Charnkrit Dejvitak, an assistant to the PM’s Office, revealed on Tuesday. Mr Charnkrit said the first would be a new reworking of the pre-existing, six-digit government lottery, while the second will comprise two- and...

    Two new government-run lotteries will be launched this year in a fresh bid to stamp out illegal lotteries and overpriced tickets, Charnkrit Dejvitak, an assistant to the PM’s Office, revealed on Tuesday.

    Mr Charnkrit said the first would be a new reworking of the pre-existing, six-digit government lottery, while the second will comprise two- and three-digit lotteries, similar to the unsanctioned lotteries featuring the same number of digits.

    He spoke in his capacity as chairman of a sub-committee tasked with exploring ways to cope with the problem of lottery tickets being sold above the officially mandated price.

    The government is now trying to secure a contract with Khon Kaen University to organise public hearings on the new lottery products, a process required before the plan can be forwarded to the cabinet for consideration, he said.

    Mr Charnkrit said the new lotteries would conform to existing laws and access to young people would be tightly controlled.

    Ticket sales will also be prohibited on school grounds, he added.

    The administration under former premier Thaksin Shinawatra launched a similar two and three-digit lottery but the project was later terminated after it was found to be in contravention of the law.

    The revenue it generated was supposed to be distributed among the government, lottery winners and the Government Lottery Office (GPO) but it was disbursed illegally.

    Commenting on the newly launched digital lottery tickets sold via the government’s Paotang e-wallet mobile application, Mr Charnkrit said the number of tickets will not be increased at least for the next two draws on June 16 and July 1.

    The e-tickets proved a runaway success with around 5 million sold within the first four days of their launch last Thursday.

    More assessments are needed before the lottery quota allocated to the mobile app can be increased, Mr Charnkrit said, adding that the initial excitement about the digital lottery could prove to be a passing fad.

    Suchinda Sunon, 66, a lottery ticket vendor in Khon Kaen’s Muang district, said the digital tickets have not boosted her income as most of her customers are elderly people who are not familiar with using smartphone or making purchases online.

    8 June 08 2022
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