The Thailand Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said people do not travel home during the Songkran holiday for fun and drinking.
- Songkran is the New Year’s national holiday in Thailand that happens on April 13.
- The country’s Public Health Minister said people could still travel to other provinces without having to quarantine.
- Travelers found to be infected with COVID-19 would, however, have to be quarantined for health safety of all citizens and visitors.
According to Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, although provinces had been divided into zones, designated by colors according to the infection rates, none would be locked down. People could still travel during the Thailand Songkran holiday to other provinces without having to go into quarantine on arrival at their destination.
The only people who would be quarantined, would be those were infected with the virus or were considered at high risk, the minister explained.
On the suggestion that travelers from provinces designated as red zones could spark worries on arrival in other provinces, Mr. Anutin said that in the true Songkran tradition, people go home primarily to seek blessings from respected elders. They do not head there just to look for fun, go around drinking, and visiting crowded places, he said.
Songkran is the Thai New Year’s national holiday that happens on April 13 every year, but the holiday period extends from April 12-16. In 2018, the Thai cabinet extended the festival nationwide to these 5 days so that citizens would have the opportunity to travel home for the holiday.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, people should avoid large gatherings. The Public Health Minister asked that people should remain alert and careful, and not be too fun-loving. It was clearly evident the virus spread among groups of people visiting entertainment venues, he said.
The most famous aspect of the Songkran celebrations is the throwing of water. The custom originates from spring cleaning aspect of the holiday. Part of the ritual was the cleaning of images of Buddha. Using the blessed water that cleaned the images to soak other people is seen as a way of paying respect and bring good fortune. It also doesn’t hurt that April is the hottest part of the year in Thailand, so being soaked is a refreshing escape from the heat and humidity.
Nowadays Thais will walk the streets having water fights using containers of water or water guns or stand at the side of roads with a hose and soak anyone who passes by. Visitors may also get covered in chalk, a custom originating from the chalk used by monks to mark blessings.