Thailand has made the decision to reverse its planned changes to entrance requirements as a result of the growing presence of the latest Covid-19 variant, Omicron, around the world. In doing so, Thailand is set to become one of the latest in what is an ever-growing list of countries that has taken action to prevent the spread of the variant within their borders. Thailand has announced that all incoming travelers will now have to take a PCR test shortly after their arrival for the foreseeable future. Additionally Thailand banned 7 countries from entry.
The government has also hinted that further measures could be taken should the situation escalate.
On top of changing their general entrance requirements for all travelers, Thailand – known by many as the Land of Smiles – has implemented targeted measures that will affect travelers from a specific list of countries. Here’s everything you need to know about Thailand’s requirement easing u-turn, plus a look at which travelers are set to be affected by the other changes they have made this week.
Thailand’s Requirement U-Turn – Information for Travelers
Prior to the pandemic, tourism was a given in Thailand. Home to the world’s most visited city – Bangkok – and with travel options for all budgets, it was a broad church for every kind of traveler. However, since the travel world was flipped upside down almost two years ago, Thailand has struggled to attract travelers back in the same numbers. The country has tried numerous schemes to attract travelers back to its shores and struggled initially, with the mandatory two week stay in a quarantine hotel proving to be unpalatable for travelers.
However, the latter half of 2021 saw Thailand start to strike the balance right. The Phuket Sandbox scheme was a step in the right direction if traveler numbers are anything to go to, and the countries most recent efforts – allowing travelers to enter without quarantine providing that their PCR upon arrival was negative – generated travel numbers that gave hope to the industry for the first time since the pandemic began.
Just last week, Thailand looked set to continue on its trend of easing the restrictions and hoops that travelers had to jump through in order to be able to enter. The country’s Covid-19 taskforce had revealed that they were going to replace the mandatory PCR test upon arrival with an antigen or ATK test. This was viewed as a significant change; at present, travelers are forced to book pricey one-night hotel packages that include a PCR test due to the length of time it takes to get a result. Changing to ATK tests – a much quicker form of testing – could have spared travelers from this requirement.
However, on Tuesday it was revealed that Thailand’s government was set to suspend the planned change due to fears of the Omicron variant. Whilst the change was meant to be effective as of December 16th, all incoming travelers will now have to take a PCR shortly after their arrival for the foreseeable future. Thailand has also imposed restrictions on travelers arriving from Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe. Travelers are banned from arriving from these countries, whilst recent arrivals are set to be placed in 14-day quarantine.
On top of that, further restrictions could be imposed in the country. Despite not yet having detected a single case of the Omicron variant in the country, Thailand’s Deputy Public Health Minister Sathit Pitutecha said that the country would likely face another lockdown if the variant were to be found in the country. Thailand has been progressively easing its public restrictions, such as drinking in restaurants and curfew times, over the past few months, and so talk of a lockdown is bound to come as a worry for travelers.
Despite the worries, Thailand is well worth a visit at present, with beaches empty and hotels offering unbeatable value. To visit, travelers will need to ensure they have a Thailand Pass, a QR code needed to enter. To apply for the Thailand Pass, travelers must have the following documents:
- Vaccination Certificate or Card
- COVID-19 Health Insurance Certificate
- Confirmed ASQ hotel booking or Confirmed SHA+ hotel booking (with pre-booked RT PCR test)
- Flight Booking
Travelers must then apply via the Thailand Pass website, and they receive an update within 3-7 days.