Author Topic: covid stories  (Read 849 times)

Offline thaiga

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covid stories
« on: May 01, 2020, 01:58:33 PM »
Pattaya bargirl’s fairytale cut short by coronavirus

3 girls look sadly at the darkened empty beer bars where they worked. Some of them may never reopen again.

It was almost a fairytale ending for 23-year-old Nid. An Issan farmgirl turned Pattaya bargirlfell in love with a boyfriend who was about to sweep her off to a better life in England.

And then the coronavirus hit.

Queuing up for handouts of rice and eggs this week, Nid, who came to Pattaya from MahaSarakham two years ago, came so close to fulfilling the dream so many young women from Thailand’s northeast have imaginedfor 50 years.

While Pattaya’s adult entertainment industry has turned mercenary over the past decade, it wasn’t always that way. Decades ago, the goal wasn’t to score as many lady drinks as possible or find a customer to entertain for a half hour. It was about finding a young, handsome foreign husband.

Unlike most of the women in her South Pattaya beerbar, Nid wasn’t an single mother. She worked in the bar to pay for college. But long before the pandemic, business had become so bad she had to quit school, saving what money she could after expenses in hope to returning some day. But then business got so bad, she had to take a second job.

Then, one night, a young Briton walked into her bar and her luck changed. The two struck up a relationship. Plans were laid. Visas were planned. He showed her British university websites and told her she could enroll there.

At the same time, the novel coronavirus had begun its hurricane-force sweep across the globe. Before they knew it, airlines were canceling flights and governments blocking entry from virus-hit Asia. Her beau quickly had to pack his bags and get home before Britain closed the borders.

Nid was left behind. Her bar closed and her boss said it would never reopen. She applied for the government’s 5,000-baht a month casual-worker handout, but bar workers don’t qualify. Braving a threatening thunderstorm Wednesday, Nid joined the line of the hungry and unemployed seeking free food handouts.

Nid said she feels no shame in taking charity. So many people are in the same boat she said. The entire country is suffering. And now that the government has extended its emergency decree another month and slowed Pattaya’s planned reopening plans, she said the pain will only worsen, especially among bargirls like her.

Many of her friends were lucky enough to get home before the government halted interprovincial buses and trains. She had lingered in Pattaya until it was too late.

Locked down in her tiny rental room, alone, Nid pines for both her mother and boyfriend, both of whom she can only see via video chat.

She does have an aunt in town and goes with her most days to seek out free food. But the stress has been tough to handle and, at one point, Nid ended up in the hospital. She predicted many others will end up in the mental ward if the government sticks to its strangling lockdown for all of May.

For Nid, each day has become about survival. There’s no more tought of an English fairytale ending. The coronavirus pandemic is worse in the U.K. than Thailand and her boyfriend is locked down with his family, probably for months, she said. He’s not coming back.

“I wish him best of luck and hope that I will see him again some time,” she said.

Instead of England, Nid simply hopes to make it back to MahaSarakham. Some regional trains will begin running again May 3. Flights also are resuming, although at prices she can’t afford. Eventually, she’ll get a bus.

Nid is done with Pattaya; done with bars. She hopes now to get home and tend vegetables. With the world upside down, she said, no one knows what the future will look like when it turns right-side-up again.
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.

Offline thaiga

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Re: covid stories - This is a last call for Paramedic Paul Cary
« Reply #1 on: May 05, 2020, 12:18:07 AM »
There was a powerful and solemn tribute for the paramedic from Colorado who died in New York City while volunteering in the fight against COVID-19. Paul Cary arrived last month from his hometown of Aurora to lend a helping hand -- and on Sunday he was honored for his incredible sacrifice.

In late March, 66-year-old Cary dropped everything when he received a call to work as part of Ambulnz's State of New York COVID Response team. He died on April 30 from complications of the virus.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.

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During the pandemic, some people seek the spiritual belief to help them get through the tough time. Like some people in the south west of Ireland, who are returning to holy wells for a bit of hope.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.

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Re: covid stories - Thai bar girls - we will never give up
« Reply #3 on: May 13, 2020, 12:43:23 AM »
Pattaya bar girls set up mini business to ride out crisis

The girls proudly tend to their BBQ stand. The profits are small, but the pride it instils is priceless

We read so many stories about the plight of the working people who have been hit so very hard by the coronavirus economic collapse. I think we have eventually stopped comparing professions as to who is suffering more than the other.

It doesn’t really matter what job you held or how much salary you made before the coronavirus forced your workplace to temporarily shut down or close indefinitely. The end result is, you’re out of a job and you have no money to feed yourself or your family.

The coronavirus doesn’t distinguish the rich from the poor, the upper echelons of society nor the common labourer. It’s almost like the luck of the draw. And if you don’t want to lose, then you shouldn’t gamble.

To stop people gambling with their lives, the government declared the emergency decree and put this country under lockdown.

As disastrous as it is for the economy and the livelihood of every person in this country, the decision had to be made.

By doing so, the economy went into a tail spin. Overnight the whole country came to a standstill. Only people who had enough money stashed away could hold out for a few months or even years. But for the common man it was like smashing into a brick wall at top speed.

It is a time when many despaired, but it is also a time when many sought opportunities in the crisis.

There are many stories of human heroism, those who refuse to be clobbered into the ground by brutal hardships.

During this period of economic turmoil, Pattaya Mail decided to meet with some of the working people who have been so rudely uprooted from the comforts of their daily lives and destroyed whatever they had of their livelihoods.

We spoke to a girl by the name of Nuanchan, a native of Korat who came to Pattaya to seek her fortune or just to make a living, whichever came first.

Nuanchan worked in a bar on Thappraya/Jomtien Beach Road. The life of a bar maid and the income were not something she had dreamed of, but it was just enough for her to live on and possibly send a little back home to her mother.

Nuanchan told us that she had lost her job 3 months ago, when the COVID-19 was just beginning to rear its ugly head in Thailand. “I didn’t think that this problem would last and that I could hold on until things came back to normal and I could work again.

“But as time passed, things looked dimmer than ever. I was running out of the little savings I had and I could not borrow any money from the other girls because they were suffering too.

“Then I heard that I could apply for the 5000 baht help package from the government. So, I tried. Some of my friends got the money, but I still haven’t and honestly, I don’t think I will,” she said dejectedly.

“What was she going to do next?” she thought. She tried working as a freelancer, but there were no customers around, so there was no income.

“I even stood in long lines waiting to get handouts of free food given out by various business people and associations. I felt a little ashamed as I never dreamed that I would ever have to get food handouts like this.

“In the end, our inner pride kicked in and my friends and I decided that we would go into business for ourselves. Nothing big, just earn enough money for food and a few necessities. We decided to setup a simple barbeque in front of the bar where we worked.

“The mamasan of the bar looks after us as if we were her children. Even though the bar is closed for business, she lets us stay with her. She is really very kind to us.

“We sell BBQ pork sticks and somtum with sticky rice. The girls take turns attending to the shop. Running a business is so much fun.

“The profits are negligible, but we are proud of what we are doing and it keeps us busy.

“We thank our parents back home for having taught us the basic skills of cooking and with that talent, we are confident that we will never go hungry.

“My friends and I are fighters,” Nuanchan said with conviction. “We come from different parts of Thailand, but we are tough Thai girls and we will never give up. We have the will and we will always find the way.”
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.

Offline thaiga

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Brit, 35, marooned on snake-infested island for two months and forced to forage for food due to coronavirus lockdown
A BRIT has been left stranded on a remote snake-infested island for TWO MONTHS due to the coronavirus pandemic. Natalie Poole, 35, is stuck on Kyun Pila, in Myanmar, with four others after the last boat off the island was suddenly cancelled.

Natalie Poole is stuck on Kyun Pila, in Myanmar, with four othersCredit: Facebook/Natalie Poole

The volunteer worker, from Ashburton, Devon, said she and her fellow castaways are now taking things  "day by day".

For the last two months they have been forced to survive with hardly any aid in one of the world's most isolated locations.

They share the island with scorpions, snakes, wild boar and monitor lizards.

Natalie revealed: "The hardest thing for me has been not knowing how long we're going to be here.

"It's kind of up and down, we're a very small group of people and we're living in a very confined, close situation.

"In the back of our minds is obviously families back home and stuff, which adds to the tension a little bit.

"We're just trying to take things day by day."

They have built a forest camp with stuff that washes up on the beachCredit: Facebook/Natalie Poole

The volunteers headed to the remote island to help protect a coral reef for the Ocean Quest organisation.

They were due to be rescued on May 5 but then their boat was cancelled when Thailand extended its lockdown.

They are no waiting for news on when the next ship can get to them off the island which has been their home since March 19.

Natalie today posted on Facebook: "Please help me get home. There is a boat leaving here on Monday but they wont let me on the mainland without booked flight tickets home.

"There are no flights and rescue flights full or require you to buy tickets in person in Yangon (Myanmar).

"It is a 6 hour boat ride and a domestic flight to Yangon from here and most rescue flights being posted with only a few days notice.

"I can wait a little longer but then if the weather changes here, the boat journey could become impossible..... so complicated!"

Natalie - who is also a scuba instructor -   should now be back in Britain ahead of working as a summer school teacher.

Now the group have turned into real-life Robinson Crusoes by transforming their forest camp with bamboo and what washes up on the shore.

The camp is about a 15-minute dinghy ride away from Awei Pila, the only resort on the island, which has closed because of the outbreak.

They have been receiving a few food parcels to keep them going but only the bare minimum, Natalie revealed.

"We have to be very aware of how much we consume, we are eating very basic food and really having to make it last," she said.

To survive they have to forage for most of their food, including yams and jackfruit.
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.

Offline thaiga

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Re: covid stories - the Farang in the free food queue
« Reply #5 on: May 18, 2020, 06:32:09 PM »
is this article a kick to a man already down. sleeping with a bunch of bar girls in a one room apartment. you gotta hand it to the thai people, most have a big heart. The British embassy, what a joke. before judgement it could happen to anyone, who knows what will happen.
good luck john.

Farang in the free food queue

Not far from the Land Office in South Pattaya, a straggly line of perhaps 400 Thais wait patiently in line for the food handouts scheduled for four o’clock. That’s because the sun is sinking. Amongst them is a down-at-heel Englishman in very late middle age, his eyes fixed firmly ahead as he shuffles along whilst keeping social distance from his neighbours. Two Thai volunteer policemen keeping order totally ignore him.

His name is John and he comes from Yorkshire. He was made redundant from a factory last year and decided to blow his lump sum on a once-in-a-lifetime holiday in Thailand. He started off last December in Pattaya’s four star hotels but rapidly dropped down the Trip Advisor star ratings as his cash shrank before disappearing altogether. He currently lives in a single room with a group of out-of-work bar workers who, he says, took pity on him.

John seems to have made every mistake in the book. Certainly most of them. He wasted his resources on booze and one night stands and failed to renew his visa before March 26, thus falling outside of the immigration bureau’s free amnesty programme. In any case, he sold his passport for 200 baht some weeks ago to a Thai stranger who said he had a very fine collection of them.

Helplines aren’t of any use to John. He did phone the British embassy but did not get any further than a series of recorded voices telling him how busy everyone was. In any case, all embassies can do in such cases is to offer to contact friends or relatives for supportive cash and John, a divorcee, hasn’t got either. He also claims to have contacted the Samaritans. A volunteer did listen sympathetically but then advised him to contact the British embassy.

Sooner or later, of course, John is going to be arrested for immigration offences. The procedure then is well-attested: a court appearance, a short local prison sentence and a much longer sojourn in the Bangkok immigration detention center awaiting deportation and blacklisting. Since the Thais don’t pay for the airfares of criminals, John could be in for a long wait. Embassies these days don’t pay air fares directly but usually have access to charities. The process can take months for obvious reasons – “pour encourager les autres”.

John says he is in no hurry to return to UK where he has nothing positive to look forward to. “Thais are very friendly and the only people who reject me are other farang,” he says. “I intend to give myself up eventually, but I’m actually happier now than when I had a full wallet.” He adds that the current lockdown in Pattaya isn’t too bad as there aren’t any tour buses clogging the roads and “there’s nothing to waste your money on anyway.”

It’s John’s turn now. He examines with obvious relish his small plastic bag containing fried chicken, tinned fish, a packet of biscuits and two mini bananas, commenting, “You won’t believe this, but I used to be a strict vegetarian.” As he departs, he pulls his face mask firmly down over his chin. “I feel quite safe with this on. Nobody can recognize me, you see.”
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.

Offline thaiga

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Re: covid stories - This new world looks horrid
« Reply #6 on: May 22, 2020, 05:12:36 PM »
it's - an interesting article that might relate to a lot of us in some ways - he's found a life he never knew and don't want to come down to earth, he likes the way it is. Maybe all this lock down has done is allowed me to discover myself and what I really want from life? - is he living the dream - My day begins before 6am and I am in bed by 830pm, by 9pm I am asleep – exhausted but very content. good luck to you dan.

How this lock down improved my life and why a return to normality risks losing it all

As there appears a glimmer of light to the end of this pandemic, life for many can begin to resemble some normality again – and I am dreading it. Of course the world needs to recover and economies have to rebuild. I write only about how this lock down surprisingly turned into my golden era, on every level my life and my families life improved.

To compound my dread of things returning to ‘normal’, when I see images of people needing an app for clearance to enter shopping malls and seeing plastic divides on restaurant dining tables; it is a world I am in no hurry to join again. This new world looks horrid.

I find it difficult to find many positives to me returning to normality. During this lock down, helped by isolating in the beautiful Koh Chang, I have become a better version of me before. It is the strangest experience and one I must learn from and do everything I can to continue life as I now know it.

Yes, for sure, most of the world will have suffered – this pandemic has been world tragedy; but it has enlightened me personally.

Let me start with a brief description of what has happened to me on all aspects of my life:

Work Efficiency and Productivity

Through conference calling using Zoom, Skype, Google and even Facetime, I am handling about 4 to 5 meetings a day from my desk in my bedroom on Koh Chang. It is super efficient. To handle 5 appointments in Bangkok in one day would mean wasting time traveling and it is tiring. I have saved so much time. On top of that I have been getting up between 530am and 6am, so my working day has been lengthened.

It has been insane how much extra work I complete each day.  When I arrived on this island 7 weeks ago a business partner and I decided to launch a new business in Bangkok, when I leave this island after 8 weeks later this business will be fully functioning, complete with a team in place, marketing plan and customers! My business as normal has also seen great new developments and I have another new project just weeks away from launching too. Let me take a deep breath for one moment, as in addition to this, I have two additional projects being explored.

I am not gloating, I am just telling you how it is. It has been a very significant two months of my working life.

Just incredible, all in only 8 weeks. So much has been achieved in such a small window of time. Being away from my normal routines has allowed me to become super focused and efficient. I am working more hours a day, having more meetings and still having plenty of leisure time. All by cutting unnecessary clutter, like travel.
Improved Lifestyle

Being isolated on an island with my family has been nothing short of magical. It is peaceful, I am relaxed, my body in tanned and life feels great. Even though I have been working hard I also have been able to stop by 5pm and that still gives me lots of time on the beach with my family. The weekends have been used to explore the island, take in the sun, play and swim.

My ‘lifestyle’ before this lock down would have been envied by many, but upon reflection although I did lots with my time I have learned less can be more. For example, you will not find me rushing to a shopping mall on a Sunday to kill time anymore, it did not nourish me mentally or physically.
Peaceful and Relaxed

Try as I might at the end of my working day in Pattaya when my family and I take a stroll along the beach or go for dinner, I am not relaxed. I cannot find peace at the end of the day. My mind is still racing with work issues and I cannot relax walking along a crowded promenade – as beautiful as it is.

Even going into a restaurant, I feel merely part of the cog and systemically caught up in a routine that I don’t want to be in.

For all the benefits of living in a vibrant and exciting town like Pattaya, I have thoroughly enjoyed having more space with less people around me.

I need to understand how I can feel so relaxed and at peace here in Koh Chang at the end of such a tough working day? I can only conclude its from being on an island which mentally detaches you from the wider world.
Less Gluttonous

In Pattaya and in Bangkok, I am drawn into the world around me. I eat a pastry when I stop off for a 10minute Starbucks break, I have a few pints of beer with my evening meal when we eat out. I eat and drink too much, and often it is not that healthy.

In Pattaya I went to the gym 5 times a week but my results were minimal.  Here in Koh Chang I have been eating out far less, as we have not be allowed, and eating healthier. I still have a couple of beers or glasses of wine in the evening but it is minimal. I have not been drunk once in two months.
Much Fitter

I have been doing crossfit five days a week for one hour a day and taking one run of around 5km to 10km over the weekends. My crossfit is done overlooking the beach and my run is through the beautiful streets of Koh Chang. It is blissful. I have dropped from 89kg to 86k and now look like a trained athlete! Rewind just one year ago and I tipped the scales at 96kg. I have improved my work and my health simultaneously, just incredible.
I Read More

Through greater efficiencies and use of time I have made every part of my day count. It means I have found time to read each evening before I slept. I am learning new things and I have enjoyed this very much.
How do I maintain this?

The whole experience has made me question how I approached life and how I integrated into society pre-pandemic.
– I have emerged like a superhero version of my previous self, just by doing things differently.

I must switch more meetings to online rather than face to face, using face to face strategically. I must maintain my new improved disciplines and I must question everything to how life was done before. My hope is many more people do this. I am currently looking at my kids schooling as I think there are better options to how it currently operates and it also locks us as a family in to one location – in many ways, just like this pandemic has controlled our movements and freedoms.

I have read about how this lock down will allow a number of practices we did before to be reset and for us to find another way, I just wonder how many of us would have learned from this experience. I mean really learned, life changing wise. I feel like I want to reverse my life, but I have yet to work out how it would work properly and longer term.

Where I choose to live is also very important and I need to remove the barriers stopping me spreading my wings more. We do not need to live the way the world or society tries to tell us.

Life is so short and tragic that we owe it to ourselves and family to choose the best options to get the most from our time on this planet.

However fantastic my life was before this pandemic, I have learned so much from this ‘time out’ that I want to now turn the chapter to reveal a life more extraordinary and suited to what my family and I want to get out of life.  Why settle for anything less?
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.

Offline thaiga

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Tears and heartbreak as flight ban keeps farang-Thai families apart

The ban on international flights is stopping Michael O’Halloran from returning to his three daughters and wife in Chonburi. O’Halloran is stranded in Ireland.

Foreign nationals married to Thai citizens who are stranded overseas due to the ban on incoming flights are pleading with the government to let them return so they can be with their families. Some have even contacted Nation Thailand to ask for help.

James Jacobs, seen here with his wife, is stranded in France.

Briton James Jacobs, who is stranded in France, says he wants to return to his wife Sopa, 29, who lives in Chiang Mai.

Speaking to the Nation over the phone, Sopa said her husband has been stranded in France since April, when Thailand stopped all incoming flights for fear of importing Covid-19 cases. She said she can only keep in touch with him online.

Another Briton, Alan Cheetham, who is stranded in the UK, said he wants to get back to his family in the northeastern province of Udon Thani.

Cheetham set up a Facebook page called “Thai Expats Stranded Overseas due to Covid-19 Travel Restrictions” last week and nearly 150 people who are in the same predicament have joined so far.

Foreign nationals married to Thais have created two Facebook groups – Thai Expats Stranded Overseas due to Covid-19 Travel Restrictions and Farangs Stranded Abroad due to Lockdown in Thailand – to share information as part of their efforts to reunite families.

 Michael O’Halloran, who is trapped in Ireland, said he wants to be with his three daughters, aged 13, nine and 20 months, who are living with his wife in Chonburi.

Alan Edwards, another expat who is in a similar situation, said it is unfair that families are being kept apart during this difficult period just because one of the spouses is not Thai.

“I understand that in these difficult times, many difficult decisions have to be made by the Thai government, but does the prejudice against Thai/foreigner families have to go on for so long? How is it fair that Thai people and children must be without a loved one or a parent because they are not Thai?” he asked.

Rob Kennedy, who is trapped in Brunei, said the Thai embassy there was helpful, but the high-ranking officials in Bangkok are showing little interest in his case. He said he is willing to pay for quarantine if he is allowed to return.

Kennedy belongs to the “Farangs Stranded Abroad due to Lockdown in Thailand” Facebook group, which has 300 members.

Another expatriate, who has a family in the southern resort city of Phuket, said on condition of anonymity that he left Phuket in March and now cannot return to Thailand. He has a four-year-old son who has a medical condition.

Mam, a Chiang Mai resident who did not wish to reveal her real name, told the Nation that her husband has been stranded in Canada. “My two-year-old girl often asks, ‘where is Daddy’?” she said.

Daniel Nolan has been stranded in Australia for close to three months now and can’t return to his wife and child. He said he went to Australia to attend his father’s funeral in March, only to learn he could not take the flight back to Bangkok. His spouse, Chonpiti Duangsangaram, told the Nation that their child is only 7 months old.

“My husband is missing helping me look after the baby. Now I have had to move to my father’s home so someone can help me look after my little girl,” she said.

Chonpiti said she has spoken to immigration officials at Suvarnabhumi International Airport about her husband being allowed back, but they said it was beyond their authority.

For Jaco Willem Kotze, the reason for separation was different. He and his wife and daughter left Thailand for a holiday in South Africa on February 25. However, when they returned on March 25 – he with all his documents attested by the Thai Embassy in Pretoria – officials at the airport forced him to return to South Africa because no foreigners were allowed to enter Thailand despite having a long-stay visa and marriage certificate.

“Now my wife and daughter are in Thailand and I am sitting in South Africa,” he said.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand banned all incoming passenger flights since April 4 and has extended the ban several times. The latest extension is until June 30.

The government says it is worried about people bringing new Covid-19 cases to Thailand as the rate of infections is still pretty high in many countries, while here it has dropped to a single digit for several days.

The authorities, however, are letting Thai nationals stranded abroad return home in limited numbers based on the capacity of state quarantine facilities and hospitals.

Recently, the government decided to have hotels and hospitals work together on quarantine facilities that can accommodate people who want to be comfortable and are willing to pay for it. This model may also apply to foreign tourists.
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.

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Re: covid stories - let us fly back to our love ones
« Reply #8 on: May 26, 2020, 12:02:04 AM »
This vlog is dedicated to foreigner stuck out side Thailand who can come back in the country simply because they do not have Thai Pass port!

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.

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Covid Interrupted: How a family’s dream vacation turned into a covid-interrupted nightmare

Dillon Pienaar knew that there was a spreading virus in Asia and Europe but at the time his home country of South Africa only had five Covid-19 cases; less than Thailand, less than China and less than parts of Europe.

It was going to be a quick holiday, a chance for his kids to see their grandparents and their great-grandmother. 22 days away from Thailand, which at the time was the hardest-hit country in Asia, seemed like a good decision.

There was also very little talk of closing down airspace and locking down whole countries outside of China.

He would spend the first few days of his holidays with his wife Jutaporn and their kids Mattis and Monique touring his old childhood stomping grounds. They spent a few days with his parents in Cape Town before taking an idyllic road trip to his grandmother’s house in the coastal city of Hermanus.

Hermanus is known throughout the world for its spectacular scenery and its whale watching. During the right time of year, Southern Right Whales and Orcas swim right up to the cliffs next to the town. It was also the perfect setting for Mattis and Monique to know their great grandmother.

But almost overnight, the outbreak increased exponentially and in the blink of an eye, all of South Africa was in lockdown. A picturesque retreat suddenly becoming a prison.

“The lockdown happened quickly and it is not like in Thailand. You are not allowed to even leave the house. If you step a foot on the curb outside your house, that is breaking the law,” Jutaporn said.

Difficult decision

The Pienaars arrived in South Africa on the 11th of March with the country reporting five cases. By the end of March, there were 1,353 cases. By mid-April, there were 4,000 cases.

It was in April that the Pienaars contacted the Thai Embassy in Johannesburg looking for a way to get back to Thailand. Thailand had shut its airspace on April 2 as coronavirus numbers approached 2,000 cases and the country entered its own limited lockdown. But the kingdom seemed to be doing a better job containing the virus than South Africa and terrifying numbers in the United States and Europe made the entire family want to “go home.”

The embassy told the Pienaars that Jutaporn and the kids would be entered into a waiting list along with other Thais around the world trying to get back. However, Dillon, as a non-citizen, would not be allowed to return despite having lived in Thailand for more than a decade, owning his own business and having residency.

“I think it’s not only unfair but illogical – we came here together, we should be able to return together, as a family,” said Dillon. “We weren’t asking for free help, we were willing to pay our own way back.”

Difficult decision

For the Pienaar’s, the family was faced with a difficult choice, either ride out the entire coronavirus case together or send Jutaporn and the kids home.

They decided that both she and the kids should return.

“The decision was of a difficult one but I made it purely for their safety and comfort – this is not our home. Our home is in Bangkok,” said Dillon. “The situation is already quite stressful and uncertain for the children and I felt they need to be home and in some degree of normalcy.”

But despite having reached the decision in April, the slow pace of repatriations and the global nature of the pandemic meant that there were no available flights until the start of May.

By that time, the number of cases in South Africa had shot up to 10,600 cases with 206 fatalities.

“We kept in close contact with the embassy until finally there was a flight available to take us home from Cape Town,” Jutaporn said. “But then we found out the flight was not even full.”

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Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.

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An end may be in sight to separation of Thai-farang families

Foreign nationals who are permanent residents or hold work permits will soon be allowed to return to Thailand, a government official said on Wednesday (May 27), in response to a recent plea from foreigners wanting to return to their partners.

The authorities are currently working on repatriating Thai nationals stranded abroad, and after that it will work on allowing back foreigners who have permanent residence permit or a work permit to re-enter the country, Natapanu Nopakun, deputy director general of Foreign Ministry’s Information Department and deputy spokesperson, said in reply to The Nation’s query.

He said Thailand has to find a balance between limited resources and effectively repatriating stranded Thais, which continues to be the priority for now.

“Our repatriation mission is nearing completion, and once that is done, then we can accommodate the flow of foreigners stranded outside Thailand. We appreciate the sacrifices and regret the inconvenience caused, but hope everyone understands that even though it appears as if Thailand has won the battle against the virus, this is only the beginning and we have not yet overcome the war,” he said.

Our decision was made under careful consideration with the ultimate goal of minimising the risk of new infections as well as preventing the scenario of an overwhelmed public health system, he added.

“The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration is currently discussing the option of letting foreigners enter the country in due course. We also plan to give priority to permanent residents and those with work permits to return as soon as the situation has eased,” he said.

The government has been slowly easing restrictions since the beginning of May, with Phases 1 and 2 already in place. Phase 3 of the easing is set to start from the beginning of June. The number of new infections remains below 10 per day, with some days having no cases at all, he said, adding that this success should be credited to the public’s compliance with precautionary measures and the effective management of international arrivals.

“We hope if this situation continues, then restrictions can be eased further to finally bring normalcy to the country,” he added.

Many foreign nationals who have Thai spouses have been complaining that the lockdown and flight ban is keeping them from their families.

Barry Mutch, for instance, is stranded in Oman. He was denied entry to the country, and missed his son’s birth. His baby is now eight-weeks-old, and he can only see his partner and the newborn via video call.

Mutch said he has been coming to Thailand regularly for eight years, but works offshore on a four-week-on, four-week-off rotation. Hence, he rarely spends more than 25 to 26 days at a time in Thailand, and has never required a visa or work permit.

“My son needs a father with him. It’s tough right now. I should be there bonding with him,” he said, adding that he is willing to go into 14-day quarantine, undergo Covid-19 tests and even pay for it himself if he can be allowed to be near his family.

Foreign nationals with Thai spouses have set up two Facebook pages, namely Farangs Stranded Abroad Due to Lockdown in Thailand and Thai Expats Stranded Overseas Due to Covid-19 Travel Restrictions, which have 870 and 1,600 members respectively. They use the pages to share information and experiences as well as a platform to campaign to reunite with their families in Thailand.

Meanwhile, Thailand has extended the state of emergency and incoming passenger flight ban until the end of June, as government claims that it is still worried about importing of new virus infections, given that the Covid-19 pandemic remains serious in many countries.
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