During this period of the coronavirus pandemic, it is clear that social contact needs to be avoided as much as possible. At present, I only go out to buy food and drink at the two shops on my doorstep. I take all the precautions possible, such as using the communal alcohol hand sanitizer in my condo building as I leave and re-enter. My current extension of stay ends in May this year. I have a new job starting straight after. It is notoriously difficult to just 'swap' employers without leaving the country, which is why 99.9% of people end up doing a quick visa run to get the new non-B. There will be an attempt to extend without leaving on a visa run, but it may not be possible.
Obviously, visa runs are not looking like an option this year for those changing jobs. People also need to go to immigration for other reasons, such as proof of income for other visas.
Surely it's time for the immigration dept in Thailand to try and stop people needing to go to their packed offices at present? As a UK national, flights home are being canceled left, right and centre anyway right now. Furthermore, if I went home I would need to stay with my parents who are in a high risk group. My wife also has health issues which put her in a high risk category.
My message is this. If Thai immigration make me choose between overstaying or risking the lives of my mother, father and wife by getting on planes or going to their packed offices every other week, then it's a no-brainer for me.
I will not be risking the lives of those very close and dear to me because of Thai bureaucracy. The staff at the immigration department are also putting their lives (and the lives of others) at risk too. It's now surely time for some common sense?
I suggest scans of visa page to be emailed to Thai immigration who could then post/email a slip to be printed and kept inside people's passports. These slips could be exceptional extensions of stay due to a humanitarian crisis (or however they want to word this). They could be done 60 days at a time, for example. Then when this is over, transferred into passports for people to either extend (workers, retirees etc) or go home within a 7 day period. Payments for the extensions could be made via online banking or at a 7/11, for example.
Compassion, common sense and understanding needs to be shown towards all during this devastating period. My big concern is that xenophobia will rear its ugly head and the lot of us will be rounded up and booted out if food shortages/hospital beds become too scarce.
But overstaying versus risking the lives of others close to me, is absolutely no contest in my book.
Good luck everyone.