Coronavirus (Covid-19)North East

First Test & Go land entry will remain closed due to Omicron

FILE PHOTO: The Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge that links Thailand and Laos will remain closed

Just a few days after confirming plans to open the land border between Thailand and Laos in Nong Khai tomorrow, the reopening was tabled indefinitely for fears of the highly transmissible Omicron variant. The cheerily-named Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge that links the 2 countries will remain closed for the time being to prevent the spread of Covid-19, having been planned as the first Test & Go land entry point.

The plan had been to make the bridge at Nong Khai border a Test & Go entry point, the first of its kind. International arrivals by air allowed fully vaccinated travellers to enter Thailand with only a quarantine long enough to get the results of an RT-PCR test. But the land borders that are open at all require anyone crossing into Thailand to quarantine for 14 days.

The Friendship Bridge, which spans from Nong Khai in Thailand to Vientiane in Laos, would be the first of what was hoped to be many land borders reopening to utilise the Test & Go scheme to allow international travellers to easily and safely into Thailand.

But now the CCSA has announced that they are suspending the entire Test & Go programme until at least January 4 for all border entries, by air or sea or land. The shutdown is aimed at nipping the spread of the Omicron variant, which has now infected over 100 people in Thailand, in the bud before it creates an infectious fourth wave of Covid-19 in the country.

The suspension of the Test & Go programme is in effect at least through the new year, with the CCSA planning a meeting on January 4 that will evaluate and analyse the Covid-19 and Omicron variant situation in Thailand and in the rest of the world to determine whether to continue the cancellation or to reopen Thailand.

The Test & Go scheme had welcomed over 200,000 international travellers since launching on November 1 as, despite the paperwork and testing hoops that still must be jumped through, it all but eliminated the dreaded quarantine aspect of entry into Thailand.

Authorities had hoped that the success of the Nong Khai Friendship Bridge reopening would pave the way to all land borders being opened as Test & Go entry points into Thailand in January. But for now, that dream will have to wait.

SOURCE: National News Bureau of Thailand

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Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.