Thailand is about to enter uncharted territory. When the COVID-19 pandemic raged and shut down global powerhouses like Japan, the European Union, and the United States, Thailand watched the world burn around them. Impossibly, Thailand has escaped any real threat from the pandemic despite being the first country to have a confirmed case outside China.
Now, the tables have turned. Countries around the world and rolling out vaccines and beginning to loosen restrictions on travel and public activities, signaling an end to the pandemic. But in Thailand, things are only getting worse. A lockdown and major restrictions feel imminent as Thailand looks for ways to curb a fast-spreading virus without proper vaccine plans.
Thailand residents are unsure how to handle this new outbreak, especially since they can reference the destruction of other countries as potential outcomes. Now it feels like a real fear of getting sick, where before, it was so rare it was almost inconceivable to contract the virus.
If one thing is true about Thais, it’s that they don’t take risks with their health. Thais are accustomed to wearing masks when they have a runny nose or visiting the hospital when they have a headache. Much like they were during the March 2020 lockdown, Thais will not take the risk of compromising their health for a short thrill.
But how long will this last? It could be a few months before Thailand gets a substantial vaccine initiative going and case numbers start to drift into reasonable territory. Thais can, however, trust in their communal commitment to staying safe and not risking their lives by being in contact with other people.
The country is in a critical position; let’s see how the next few weeks unfold.