Borders reopen for 2nd day

Thailand was forced to open its borders in the North and Northeast for a second day running as thousands of migrant workers from Myanmar and Laos demanded to cross over despite the temporary shutdown measures against Covid-19.

All border checkpoints were scheduled to be closed as of Monday, but officials had to bow to the demands of crowds of workers who waited anxiously near immigration control areas demanding to be allowed to go back home.

With difficulties in enforcing a border shutdown, the cabinet has resolved to let Myanmar, Laos and Cambodian workers whose work permits have expired to continue staying in Thailand until June 30, government spokesperson Narumon Pinyosinwat said.

Yesterday, more than 2,000 Myanmar migrant workers gathered at the border checkpoint 2 in Tak’s Mae Sot district, demanding to be allowed to cross over to the Myanmar border town of Myawaddy, officials said.

The growing number of workers demanding to cross forced border checkpoints on both sides to open.

Dozens of police and soldiers were called in to help maintain order and screen people to prevent the transmission of Covid-19.

The weather was so hot that one worker fainted while waiting for the borders to open.

Most workers had taken overnight buses from Bangkok to Mae Sot.

“The lockdown in Bangkok has forced my food shop to close,” said Ma Tin, a 40-year-old Myanmar woman who, along with her friends, lost her job as a server after City Hall ordered a partial shutdown of the city from Saturday to contain the outbreak.

Bangkok governor Aswin Kwanmuang has also ordered all shopping malls, with the exception of supermarkets, to stay closed until April 12 in a move to force people to stay indoors.

Market stalls selling non-essential items and hair salons have also been ordered to shut down to cut the chance of human-to-human transmission.

Meanwhile, more than 1,000 Lao workers were allowed to cross the second Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge in Mukdahan province for a second day running.

Officials required all workers to undergo thermal-scanning and queue up to wash their hands during the departure process.

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