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Thailand Bans Face Mask Exports as Coronavirus Fears Increase

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Travelers are allowed to take no more than 30 face masks overseas per trip. Except patients with medical certificate could take up to 50 masks.

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Coronavirus - Chiang Rai Times

Thailand has imposed a ban on the export of face masks and limited the number that travelers can take overseas. Tourists leaving Thailand have been limited to 30 face masks to ensure sufficient domestic supply.

The decision came after the Internal Trade Department has previously required exporters to seek permission for the export of 500 masks or more.

Director-General Whichai Phochanakij said Friday that some exporters had divided their shipments to lower than 500 masks in each delivery. Therefore, the Department had banned unauthorized export of face masks. Above all to ensure an adequate domestic supply in the wake of the coronavirus.

Furthermore, travelers are allowed to take no more than 30 face masks overseas per trip. Except patients with medical certificate could take up to 50 masks, he said.

As of Wednesday, a Department report showed there were 28 million face masks in domestic stock, Whichai said.

Tourism struggling due to coronavirus

Meanwhile, Tourism-related businesses in Phuket have been hard hit by the sharp drop in the number of tourist arrivals, especially Chinese. Above all a direct result of the coronavirus outbreak in China and its spread to several other countries.

The Phuket Wang Tahfu Chinese restaurant, for example, which used to cater to between 1,000-2,000 Chinese customers. With mostly tour groups, it has seen virtually no customers since late January. In January the Chinese government banned tour groups from leaving the country.

Mr. Wutthipong Boonraksa, general manager, told Thai PBS that the restaurant relies mainly on Chinese tourists and, now, barely any of them visit Phuket.

Arrivals from the other countries have also reduced substantially because of the fear of coronavirus.

Direct flights to Phuket from Singapore, Hong Kong and China have been reduced by 70-80% since the outbreak. This means the loss of between 5,000-6,000 tourist arrivals a day. The daily direct flights are now down to just 10.

 

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