Thailand’s Updated Entry Rule For Foreigners As China Reopens Borders
As per Jan 7- Thailand will reintroduce Covid-19 entry requirements for foreigners flying into the country.
On Jan 9- the country’s transport minister said, as the Southeast Asian nation prepares for an expected wave of tourists from China.
Thailand this week opened its borders to vaccinated visitors for the first time in 18 months, as the country struggles to shore up an economy still languishing due to the pandemic.
Visitors from more than 60 countries considered “low risk” are now allowed to visit the Southeast Asian nation, with the quarantine essentially lifted.
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Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said Thailand is preparing to reopen the country to tourism by opening routes such as the Phuket Sandbox. He said the opening of the borders was to ensure Thailand remained in the “competition” to attract tourists, adding that the introduction of the quarantine would deter visitors from elsewhere.
Thailand is heavily dependent on tourism, which before the pandemic accounted for around one-fifth of the country’s GDP and 20% of its total employment, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
But experts and business owners are cautious about reopening.
Pravit Rojanaphruk, a journalist who works for the Bangkok-based news website Khaosod English, said the reopening could create obstacles to the progress made in Thailand’s fight against the pandemic.
Thailand announced on Monday (January 9) that the rule requiring travellers to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 has been lifted.
Thailand will require international travelers to show they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before flying to Thailand, according to the country’s aviation regulator, as it prepares for more tourists after China reopened its borders on Sunday (Jan 8 ).
The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) said in a statement on Saturday that starting early Monday, all foreign arrivals must prove they are vaccinated or provide a letter confirming they have recovered from COVID-19 within six months.
Unvaccinated passengers must present a medical certificate explaining why they did not receive the vaccine.
CAAT said airlines will be responsible for checking documents before passengers board, and published on its website a list of how many doses are needed for different types of COVID-19 vaccines.
The new measure will remain in place until at least the end of January, CAAT said.
The vaccination requirement was lifted in Thailand last October, but has been reinstated when China reopens its borders after relaxing its zero-Covid policy.
The first commercial flight from China to Thailand, Xiamen Airlines flight MF833, will arrive in Bangkok from Xiamen on Monday with 286 passengers, government spokeswoman Traisuree Taisaranakul said on Sunday.
Foreigners traveling to Thailand from a country where a negative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test result is a condition of entry are required to show medical insurance that covers treatment for COVID-19, the Ministry of Health said.
The new entry requirements do not apply to Thai passport holders or travellers transiting through Thailand.
Opening Thailand is possible through vaccination
Health experts say Thailand initially did well in combating the spread of COVID-19, but that a spike in cases caught officials by surprise in April, prompting authorities to call for months of restrictions, lockdowns and curfews. During its third wave, Thailand saw more than 20,000 infections a day.
Thailand, with a population of nearly 70 million, has vaccinated around 54% of its population, according to government figures. In total, 1.9 million people were infected and nearly 20,000 died.
Although restrictions remain, the speed of the country’s vaccine rollout in recent months, sometimes exceeding 1 million a day, has made it easier for the Thai government to reopen its borders.
Visitors must undergo a COVID-19 test upon arrival and wait for the results at a pre-booked hotel. If the results are negative, they can travel to a variety of destinations around the country, authorities say. Unvaccinated visitors are still subject to a seven-day quarantine at an approved hotel.
46 countries were originally signed up for the November reopening, but more were added at the last minute. Rojanaphruk says the decision was to attract more visitors to boost the ailing economy.
“Many people [have been] severely affected by the impact of COVID-19 on the economy [and] the focus will certainly be on how successful Thailand’s reopening would be and whether the benefits will flow to the working class,” he said.
Thani Thongphakdi, Permanent Secretary of Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, signed the announcement to add 17 more countries after “further consideration of the global situation of the spread of the COVID-19 virus in parallel with health and socio-economic parameters”.
But Rojanaphruk believes the strict restrictions could be reimposed if Thailand sees an increase in cases.
“The government is alluding to the fact that if the situation gets out of control, they are willing to reimpose the blockade and that the situation will be assessed every week,” he said.
Travel requirements and restrictions for foreigners entering Thailand may vary slightly by country and traveler.
We recommend contacting your local Thai embassy or consulate before making any plans or reservations.
Contributed by Ankit Raj Sharma
Edited by Imtiaz Ullah