Illegal returnees and those who assist them will be punished

June 15, 2020

HURFOM: On June 10, 2020, the National Central Committee for Prevention, Control and Treatment of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) announced that migrant workers who returned to Myanmar via unsanctioned routes will face punishment under the law. This directive includes anyone who assisted the returnees.

Illegal returnees and those who intentionally accepted and hid them will be strictly punished by law,” said State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi on her Facebook social media platform on June 13, 2020.

Since the end of May, the New Mon State Party (NMSP) closed their checkpoints at the Thai-Burma border in Japanese Well, Kyan Taw (Gu Bao) and at Three Pagoda Pass (TPP). Returnees have  not been allowed to pass through these border gates.

If they come back with their labour broker, we will apply a fine to the broker of 50,000 Thai Baht and sentence him/her to 6-months imprisonment. Now, we’ve heavily guarded our checkpoints to stop returnees,” said Nai Ong Ma Gnay, a Central Executive Committee member with the NMSP.

In NMSP controlled areas, returnees to Myanmar who have come via  legal  routes must stay at a quarantine facility for 21 day.  Assuming they show no sign of infection with C-19, they may then carry on to their native village, but are required to remain in home quarantine for another seven days.  Domestic travelers who visit any COVID-19-infected areas must also stay at the quarantine facility for 21 days in order to be monitored for infection, before they may continue to their home.

If someone wants to travel, he/she can go on a day trip but if he/she wants to stay overnight, he/she needs to bring a document of “recommendation for travel”. When coming back, he/she must report to us about his/her travel history,” said Nai Ong Ma Gnay.

According to Nai Wai, the Administrator of Ward #2, Lamine Town, there were no illegal returnees in Mon State.  Five returnees came back via legal routes and received proper medical checks.

We’ve patrolled the village and notified the villagers to file a report to the Village/Ward Administration office, if family members or neighbors come back from abroad, and if not, they will be punished in accordance with the laws,” said Nai Wai.

However, some villagers are not willing to report information about returnees, as they are afraid of damaging their social relationships.

When COVID-19 started in Yangon, people were scared. One of my friends visited his native place for a week. After he came back to the village, I, for the sake of the village, reported about it to the village authority. Since then he hasn’t spoken with me. Our relationship was destroyed. After that, I don’t care about the comings and goings of others,” said a Kaw Dut villager of Ye Township.

On June 12 in order to control the spread of COVID-19, the National Central Committee for Prevention, Control and Treatment of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) announced  that all previously issued C-19 prevention/mitigation orders, notifications and announcements will be extended until the end of  June 2020.

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