The Thai Film Director Association (TFDA) filed a petition on 7 July calling for the authorities to ease disease control measures and procure effective vaccines in order to allow film crews to work.
TFDA representatives submitting their open letter (Picture from the TFDA)
Representatives of the TFDA, the Film and Digital Media Crew Association (FDCA), and the Thai Independent Film Association (FIDA) went to parliament to submit their petition calling for government support for the film industry, following the effects of Covid-19 control measures.
TFDA president Anucha Boonyawatana said that even though the TFDA has been working with the Department of Disease Control and the Ministry of Culture in setting distancing measures for film crews to prevent the spread of Covid-19, the film industry is now being severely affected by the pandemic. Due to the severity of the situation, the government has issued disease control measures which included a ban on gatherings of more than 20 people, meaning that film crews are not able to work.
Because of this, the three organizations are calling for these measures to be eased, so that they are able to go back to work. They asked that filming be allowed for crews of less than 50 people, and for district offices to grant permission by requiring the crew to provide Covid-19 test results for each crew member. They also asked that vaccines be provided for film industry workers not covered by social security, and the TFDA will provide the authorities with a list of those who need vaccines.
They called for the government to urgently procure effective vaccines, such as mRNA vaccines, for workers in the film industry, as well as other industries, to prevent Covid-19 outbreaks from worsening.
The authorities must also send a memo informing each provincial authority that filming is allowed under disease control measures, and if the authorities want to amend disease control measures for film crews, the measures must be clear and appropriate, and the TFDA as well as other professional organisations must also be able to contribute to drafting the measures.
Anucha said that film crews have previously been able to proceed with their work with social distancing measures, and there has no case of a crewmember getting infected at work. She said that it is possible to control the spread of the virus among film crews, as filming areas are often not open to the public, and each crew would already have a list of crew members and actors taking part in the filming.
Their petition was received by Move Forward Party (MFP) leader and MP Pita Limjaroenrat, who said that he would like the government to issue a clear policy to allow the film industry, as well as other sectors, to continue working. He spoke about his experience of how films allowed him to learn about Thai society and how they encourage a democratic culture.
Meanwhile, filmmaker and former MFP MP Tanwarin Sukkhapisit said that they are currently in the process of making two films, and regularly had to pay for Covid-19 testing fees, which in total could cost more than getting vaccinated. They also questioned why Covid-19 testing is still so expensive after a year of the pandemic, and said that they have never received assistance from the government for this.
Tanwarin also asked why Thai people still do not have access to effective vaccines, and why people are required to pay for these vaccines even though other countries provide them for free, saying that getting good vaccines would allow everyone to continue with their lives.
9539 new cases of Covid-19 were reported on 11 July, bringing the total number of reported cases since April 2021 to 307,508. 86 more people have also died, bringing the death toll to 2617.