Thailand looks to end mandatory mask wearing by mid-June

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Most people in Thailand may no longer be required to wear a face mask from the middle of next month, the permanent secretary for public health said on Tuesday (May 24).

Only people with underlying illnesses, the elderly or pregnant women will be required to wear face masks when out in public, Dr Kiattiphum Wongrajit told Thai language media during a visit to Surat Thani.

However, while it won’t be enforced, the Ministry of Public Health will still recommend people wear face masks if they are infected with COVID-19 or in a ‘high risk’ group, if they are in a poorly ventilated space or if they are in a crowded place.

Dr Kiattiphum said the COVID-19 situation in Thailand was improving much faster than initially predicted, and that the country was on track to declare the disease an endemic.

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Earlier this year, the Ministry of Public Health announced plans to declare COVID-19 an endemic disease from July 1.

Thailand first introduced compulsory mask wearing for people when out in public more than two years ago.

Previously, people who refused to wear a mask when out in public were subject to potential fines of up to 20,000 baht.

If the rule regarding mandatory mask wearing is dropped by mid-June, it would represent arguably the most significant easing of the restrictions put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19.

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