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The army imposed martial law on Tuesday and today the chief of the army made a televised address to the nation announcing that it was seizing power .
It has imposed a nightly, nationwide curfew between 10pm and 5am which will apply both to locals and tourists. During this time tourists in all parts of the country must return to their accommodation before 10pm and not leave again until after 5am.
Those planning to fly into or out of the country after 10pm will be an exception however. As in previous coups, these travellers will be allowed to move between the airport and their hotels, according to a military spokesman. Air passengers with flights departing out of Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang International Airports are advised to set out at least four hours prior to their flight departure time.
The safety of all foreigners in Thailand has been assured by the army’s chief, the Foreign Office said on its website. It warned however that “there is a risk of a violent reaction to the army’s announcement.
“We recommend that you exercise extreme caution and remain alert to the situation. If you’re in any doubt about your safety, stay in your accommodation.”
It also stated that “a number of media outlets have been taken off air and there is a risk that this could extend to the internet. The military media channels are continuing to broadcast.
“As the situation is evolving you should monitor local news and social media for developments.”
The normally thronging backpacker haven of Khao San Road appeared empty by around 10.15 tonight.
“There were long queues at the sky train and underground stations and traffic was chaotic as people were trying to get home before the curfew,” said Tom Vater, our Bangkok expert.
Supermarkets were extremely crowded also, he said, with many Thais stocking up on supplies. “Television, both foreign (including BBC, Al Jazeera and CNN) and local channels have largely been blocked or suspended, with television screens showing the logos of the – newly formed – “National Peace and Order Maintaining Council”.
As well as staying indoors at night, Thailand’s Tourism Authority (TAT) advised tourists to stay away from rally sites, as the army are sending in soldiers and vehicles with the intention of escorting protesters away. Gatherings of more than five people have been banned.
It advised tourists to stay clear of the following sites in particular:
- Government House at Makkhawan Rangsan Bridge on Ratchadamnoen Nok Avenue
- Chamai Maruchet Bridge on Phitsanulok Road
- Government Complex on Chaeng Wattana Road
- Democracy Monument on Ratchadamnoen Klang Avenue (a camping site)
- The pro-government group’s rally site is on Aksa Road in Bangkok’s western outskirts
The military said the coup was necessary to restore order and put political reforms in place.