Thailand has now stopped accepting new applications from travelers for some of the more popular entry routes of its Thailand Pass entry system amidst fear of cases of the Omicron variant being imported from abroad. The change of heart means that travelers hoping to visit the Land of Smiles will no longer be able to enter on the country’s successful ‘Test & Go’ or sandbox schemes, with the Phuket Sandbox being the only option for new Thailand Pass applications from today.
Despite the Thailand Pass Test & Go scheme proving to be a hit with travelers, given that arrivals would only have to spend one night in quarantine whilst awaiting PCR test results, the decision to scrap it has been made with public safety in mind. However, many in the industry oppose the decision, and the low numbers of arrivals testing positive make it seem like an overreaction. Here’s everything you need to know about the changes, and a look at the best ways to enter the country at present.
Test & Go Scrapped – Information For Travelers
A country that is highly dependent on tourism – and home to the world’s most visited city, Bangkok – Thailand has struggled to welcome travelers back to its shores in anything like the same volume it was generating prior to the pandemic. To address this, the country launched its “Test & Go” scheme, which would allow travelers to enter with only one night in quarantine – a much more attractive proposition than Thailand’s previous travel schemes.
The system proved relatively successful, with more travelers entering the country under the Test & Go than the country had seen in the past 18 months. However, owing to an over-abundance of caution towards the Omicron variant of Covid-19, Thailand announced yesterday that it would be suspending new applications for the Test & Go entry type from today, with the ban set to last into the new year.
Travelers who have already applied to enter the country under the Test & Go scheme and have received their Thailand Pass QR code are unaffected. They are still allowed to enter and spend just one night in quarantine before being free to travel, though they must take an additional Covid-19 PCR test only either day 5 or day 6 of their time in the country. The changes are set to last until January 4th at the earliest, when they will then be reviewed.
However, the move is a hammer blow to those who were hoping to travel to Thailand over the new year. Rather than having to quarantine for one night, travelers will instead have to enter via the Phuket Sandbox route. Under this scheme, travelers are free to travel around the province of Phuket but cannot leave, and they must report back to their hotel every night. Travelers must do this for seven nights, before being allowed to travel the country more freely – providing they test negatively at the end of their seven nights.
Travelers may also enter the country through the Alternative Quarantine route. However, Alternative Quarantine is much more restrictive for travelers, who will be confined to their rooms for a minimum duration of seven nights and unable to move around freely – making entry via the Phuket Sandbox a much more attractive proposition at present.
Thailand is currently reporting a seven day rolling average of 3,000 Covid-19 cases per day, and has reported a handful of community-transmitted cases of the Omicron variant. Towns and islands in the country have been noticeably busier over the past few weeks, though how long that will last with the new changes being made remains to be seen.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories