Thailand Plans To Extend Quarantine-Free Ban
Thailand is planning to extend its quarantine-free ban until January 31st. The nation started a Test & Go scheme in 2021; however, the emergence of Omicron led to the government pausing the scheme. Travelers haven’t been able to use the Test & Go scheme for weeks, with the Phuket Sandbox being the only option for new Thailand Pass applications.
Thailand’s main COVID-19 task force will meet later this week to review the suspension of the Test & Go scheme according to Traisuree Taisaranakul, a government spokeswoman. However, the nation’s health ministry is recommending an extension of the suspension for 60 countries until January 31st. Thailand announced the initial ban on December 21 for 14 days, or until further announcement.
Thailand plans to treat COVID-19 as endemic in 2022. The nation is highly reliant on its tourism economy. Thailand attracted almost 40 million tourists in 2019. But since March 2020, those numbers have flatlined, significantly pressuring the Thai economy.
That said, Thailand plans to resume normal life in 2022 through booster jabs. Opas Karnkawinpong, director-general of the Department of Disease Control said Thailand is dropping its zero-COVID approach and “learning to live with Covid”.
Thailand’s Current Entry Requirements
Travelers can still apply to enter Thailand under the Alternative Quarantine Scheme or the Phuket Sandbox if travelers are fully vaccinated.
- If travelers have already received their Thailand Pass QR code, they can still enter Thailand under the scheme they registered for
- If travelers registered to enter Thailand before December 22nd—but haven’t received their QR code—they must wait for their Thai authorities to process their application. Once the Thai authorities approve the application, they can enter Thailand under the scheme they registered for
Thailand has currently banned travelers from South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Malawi, or Mozambique.
If travelers are looking to enter Thailand via the Phuket Sandbox or Alternative Quarantine schemes, they must take a PCR test before they arrive in Thailand and once they arrive in Thailand. However, policies vary significantly on what happens if travelers test positive on arrival in Thailand.
The COVID-19 Situation In Thailand
Thailand’s COVID-19 cases have dropped to a six-month low despite the emergence of Omicron. The current 7-day case average in Thailand is 2,868; a significant decrease from the 7-day case average of 21,441 cases in August 2021 when the Delta variant entered Thailand. Currently, Thailand has fully vaccinated 65.1% of its entire population after administering 103 million vaccine doses.
The Current COVID-19 Restrictions Within Thailand
Despite travelers returning to Thailand in 2021, there are still plenty of restrictions within the country. Currently, domestic travel options are open in Thailand, but they’re subject to disease control measures between provinces.
Until further notice, travelers must wear masks in all indoor and outdoor spaces within Thailand. Travelers must also wear masks in vehicles if they’re traveling with other people.
However, restrictions vary drastically between provinces. For example, several disease control measures are in place at local levels. These include a color rating for each of Thailand’s 76 provinces based on COVID-19 case numbers. Depending on the color rating of each province, restrictions may change at any time.
Moreover, in some provinces, there are restrictions on dining, public gatherings, restaurants, shops, and nightclubs. Bangkok—Thailand’s bustling capital city—has restrictions on nightlife. Public Health Ministry Permanent Secretary, Kiattiphum Wongjit, said the full reopening of bars, nightclubs, and karaoke joints is unlikely to happen on January 16 as planned.
For the previous two years, Thailand has attempted to reopen its tourism industry through Sandbox Schemes and partial border openings. Still, unfortunately, confusing rules and regulations have prevented most tourists from returning to ‘The Land of Smiles’ in the last two years.
Let’s hope 2022 is different and we can enjoy Thailand again.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com