Wear a mask or face a 20,000 Baht fine
So Thailand has had a bit of a massive reaction to the discovery of a few new cases of Covid and now have put some tough regulations on 31 provinces. For some reason, it has not yet extended to Chiang Mai, where I live, but I would imagine it is only a matter of time.
I don't want to get into whether or not masks actually accomplish anything or not, that is a discussion for other groups. I can understand the argument on both sides. At the end of the day I am a visitor in this country and I will comply with what they tell me to do. Mostly this just means to I have been spending more time at home or at friends' houses just to avoid the hassle.
Now I realize that the sign says "up to 20,000" but I want everyone out there to understand how absurd a fine that this actually is if it were ever to be put on your average Thai worker, especially now that everyone is a lot poorer ever since the country closed the borders over a year ago.
20,000 Baht is approximately $640, which would be a very high fine for a minor offense in just about any country but in this country that is just an absurd number. You gotta put things into perspective as far as economies of scale are concerned and I'll just put this out there and say that I don't know very many Thai people that make 20,000 a month total, let alone have that much left over in savings. The minimum wage in this country is 8,000 THB / month, but there are lots of employers that pay well under this amount and no one reports it. Basically, the people of this country are relatively poor.
If you were to tell a Thai farmer than he has to pay 20,000 or go to jail he really wouldn't have much choice - he would have to go to jail.
Now I don't think it is too terribly difficult to wear a mask in public and I suppose the fear of being fined this amount has people complying for the most part, but I can see this going terribly wrong for the government if they were to try to get 20k from the average Thai person. Thais are known for not tolerating too much government interference in their lives and once ever 10 years or so they overthrow the democratically elected government. It seems to be a bit of a tradition here.
For the most part, the police from what I have heard all around the country are being quite friendly about it and this is a good thing. Also, the masks are being provided to the population for free and this brings about another issue, the people are reusing the same masks over and over again. I know that I do. I have heard that this is a bad things but when there are regulations of this sort, I normally respond by just spending more time at home instead of complaining about it.
Here where I live masks are not required but most people wear them anyway and it is kind of funny to me that if you standing in line at KFC people wear a mask, but as soon as they sit down the mask comes off....because it is tough to eat chicken through a mask... and when I see this I wonder, why bother with the masks at all? I'm not calling for KFC to be closed or anything because I quite like the convenience of KFC but what's the difference between standing in line and sitting at your table? I'm sure this silly comparison has been made many times before so I'll just leave it alone.
The point of all this is that a 20,000 Baht fine for not wearing a mask, should it ever actually be imposed on someone, is not going to go down very well with the average Thai person, because the concept of even having that much money all at once is well out of reach for a vast majority of the country.