Transport operators have questioned the removal of the night-time curfew on Monday of next week without an end to the emergency decree, saying the government may have other political motives for continuing with restrictive state powers.
While retailers and restaurateurs are optimistic about the end of the curfew, which will motivate more consumer spending without the threat of heavy criminal penalties keeping shoppers at home, Thongyoo Kongkhan, advisory chairman of the Land Transport Federation of Thailand, still has one worry.
The executive decree, which will be in place until June 30, threatens to dampen investor confidence and risks infringing on people’s rights, he said.
“The state of emergency makes Thailand look as if it is at war or dealing with a coup and disorder,” Mr Thongyoo said. “Travellers find it hard to enter Thailand. This may affect their personal rights.”
He said previously that the decree, which has been enforced since late March, could cost the economy a further 300-400 billion baht during its one-month extension in June.
“This makes me question whether the government is trying to control the political situation or curb any mass protests,” Mr Thongyoo said.
But Boonyong Tansakul, chief executive of Zen Corporation, is more optimistic. He said lifting the nationwide curfew on June 15 will have a positive impact on the domestic retail market, as stores can remain open later and offer more time to shop and dine out.
Businesses will become more active and consumers can leave their homes without fearing heavy fines or jail time if they accidentally return late.
Restaurants in particular will benefit, as customers are believed to be waiting for full-fledged reopenings.
According to Mr Boonyong, the company has seen improving sales since the third stage of lockdown easing.
He voiced confidence that lifting the nationwide curfew and the fourth stage of easing would help boost sales for the restaurant business and enable a faster-than-expected recovery.
Voralak Tulaphorn, chief marketing officer of The Mall Group, said lifting the curfew will help boost shopping sentiment because consumers will feel more relaxed without a legally enforceable time limit on shopping.
“The measure will be very positive, particularly for downtown shopping centres,” she said. “People who live far from downtown don’t shop there on weekdays because of limited time. Restaurant operators will gain greater benefits from this measure because they will have more sales opportunities.”