UPDATE: Empty streets in Bangkok as curfew kicks in
The bustling streets of Bangkok went dead on Thursday night after the army-ordered curfew kicked in.
The 10pm to 5am curfew was ordered after the military announced that they have taken over the government.
General Prayut Chan-Ocha made the announcement in a televised address to the nation, saying: “In order for the country to return to normal quickly, the National Peace Keeping Committee comprised of the army, the Thai armed forces, the Royal Air Force and the police need to seize power as of May 22 at 4.30 pm."
The military then declared a night-time curfew across the country.
“Under martial law, the National Peace Keeping Committee prohibits anyone across the kingdom from leaving their home from 10 pm to 5 am,” an army spokesman said in a televised announcement.
The coup was met with both jubilation and dismay by rival sides of Thailand’s political divide, but for most Bangkok residents the more prosaic concern of getting home safely before a night-time curfew dominated.
Bangkok's above-ground mass transit train announced that it would close operation at 9pm.
The military also ordered all television and radio stations to suspend their usual programmes and show only the army’s broadcasts.
The move was to ensure the release of “accurate news to the people,” an army spokesman said in a televised announcement.
Meanwhile, the military ordered protesters on both sides of the political divide to disperse and go home.
“In order to keep peace and order all protesters from every group must leave for their homes immediately,” an army spokesman said in a televised address, adding that buses had been arranged to take them away.
It also suspended the national constitution.
“In order to run the country smoothly, (coup leaders have) suspended the constitution of 2007, except for the chapter on the monarchy,” said a statement read out on national television.
This was followed by an order for members of the now-deposed government’s cabinet to report to the military by the end of the day.
“In order to keep peace and order, the National Peace and Order Maintaining Council orders these persons to report themselves to the Council by May 22,” said a statement read out on television by the military.
The military also announced a ban on gatherings of more than five people at a time for “political purposes".
“Under articles 8 and 11 of martial law, the National Peace and Order Maintaining Council prohibits gatherings of more than five people for political purposes,” said an announcement by the military on national television.
“Anyone who violates the ban will be subject to a one-year jail term, 10,000 baht fine, or both.”
Thailand's Tourism Authority (TAT) said: "The army are sending soldiers and vehicles to escort protesters away from rally sites to end the protests. During this time we advise tourists currently visiting Bangkok to avoid areas where rally sites are situated as there will be large crowds."
Tourists are to stay clear of the following sites in particular: Government House, Chamai Maruchet Bridge, Government Complex and Democracy Monument.
Shops closed early.
Schools were also ordered closed on Friday.