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I flew home to get a new visa – one person’s experience with the “new normal” in Thailand

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I flew home to get a new visa – one person’s experience with the “new normal” in Thailand | Thaiger

Theo, from The Netherlands, flew back from Thailand to arrange a new visa in his home country. When he returned he had to stay in an Alternative State Quarantine hotel in Bangkok. What were his challenges? How much did it all cost?

I am from the Netherlands, I am 44 years old, married with my Thai wife for over 5 years and we have 2 children together. I have lived permanently in Thailand since June 26, 2014, until I left in July this year to get a new visa.

When I gave up my shares in my Chiang Rai business I founded in 2014 because of a “burn out” last October, I ended up – since my arrival 6 years ago – on a tourist visa. I decided to have a short break before doing anything about the situation and I visited South Africa for 10 weeks to get my energy back.

When I returned to Thailand in February, I started the process of getting a NON-O visa because I was married and had a Thai family. The plan was, and still is, that I would open a new rehab centre in Phuket in July – The Diamond Rehab Thailand – and eventually would apply a NON-B visa.

I was in the process of getting my NON-O visa then Thailand went into lockdown as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak – I was still on a tourist visa. Luckily for me and many others the Thai Government provided an amnesty on visas until the end of July (it has since been extended to September 26.

I read in the news somewhere around the third week of June that some foreigners were then being allowed to re-enter The Kingdom under specific categories and restrictions – having family in Thailand, medical tourism etc. I took my chances and left the Kingdom on July 2 to fly to Holland. I thought “let’s do it now, maybe they will change it again in the nearby future”

The plan was to go directly to the Thai Embassy in The Hague, spend 10 days with my family in Holland, before returning with my new NON-O visa. The plan was that I’d return to Thailand at the start of August to be with my family in Thailand.

I flew with KLM directly and noticed that 95% of the flights that evening had been cancelled. I was the lucky one, KLM was still flying. (Most previously scheduled flights were still being listed on the arrivals and departures screens, just being listed as ‘cancelled’)

I flew Economy class and had to wear my face mask for the entire 11 hours. In front of me was a plastic bag with some water and cookies, cheese and a sandwich. There was no other food or drinks being served. I was flying on a repatriation flight without even knowing it! It wasn’t the most pleasant flight I had, but I thought “it is what it is…”

I arrived on Schiphol airport and rented a car, drove straight to the Thai Embassy in The Hague and there they told me I coudn’t enter the Embassy without an appointment… “these are the new rules since the coronavirus”. To make an appointment I had to email them and wait.

I went back to my car and emailed the Embassy with my request to go return to Thailand ASAP on a NON-O visa. That same Friday afternoon they emailed me back with a list of documentation and procedures I needed to follow to be able to fly back to Thailand, – Step 1, Step 2 and Step 3. The appointment at the Embassy was set for the following Tuesday.

The first step was to gather the following documents:

1. A cover letter I have to write indicates the necessity and urgency for me to enter the Kingdom of Thailand.

2. A copy of my marriage certificate.

3. A copy of my passport.

4. A copy of the birth certificates of my two kids together with a copy of their passports.

5. A valid health insurance policy covering all expenditures of medical treatment, including Covid-19, worth at least 100,000 USD (a statement in English).

6. A filled in declaration form that was attached.

I had all of these documents luckily well prepared in Thailand knowing I would apply for a NON-O visa, including a bank statement of showing more than 400,000 baht in the account, if the account is on my name only, otherwise 800.000 baht if the account was in my wife’s name together with my name on it.

Tuesday, July 7, I went to The Thai Embassy, gave them all my paperwork and Step 1 was officially finished. I now went to Step 2 which meant that all my paperwork would then be considered… I could not do anything at this stage besides wait. I left my passport behind and was told it could take up to 2-3 weeks and they would contact me.

I was already a bit shocked with the 2-3 week timeframe because I was planning to only stay 10 days maximum… that turned out a bit differently from my plans in the end.

2 weeks and 2 days later the Embassy called me and asked if I would be available for a flight with KLM back to Bangkok on the August 7. There was also a possible alternative flight on August 14 with EVA air but they weren’t sure at that stage. They would let me know later. That same day I got an email that the August 7 flight was confirmed and I now went to Step 3 and needed to gather some more documents in preparation for the flight.

The ASQ (Alternative State Quarantine) hotel reservation was already booked on August 8. They also told me in the email that they would contact me later about the ticket, visa, ‘fit to fly’ documentation and covid-19 test.

I emailed all 26 ASQ-qualified (at that time, now there are more) Hotels immediately and 24 of them were already full, only 2 of them had 1 room left. By the time I was ready to book my first option was already sold, so I quickly called the second option – Anantara Riverside Bangkok – and paid the 77.000 baht fee to make sure I had that room confirmed.

I knew before I left that I had to stay in an ASQ hotel. I expected that, and was actually looking forward to two weeks of ME time.

I emailed the embassy that I had an ASQ booked and confirmed, and again I had to wait.

I spent time with my family and I started to get a bit nervous, thoughts like: “what if I have Covid, that means I can’t fly back?” Around this time I also heard that the Government in Thailand had already given foreigners a longer time in Thailand with an extension to the visa amnesty, until September 26, and I started to doubt my decision to fly all the way to Holland for a NON-O visa and all the money that this was costing me…. I could have stayed in Thailand until the end of September and who knows what plan would pop up to renew my visa?

Step 3 required the following documents…

1. A proof of confirmation that ASQ (Alternative State Quarantine) has been arranged.

2. A confirmed plane ticket (if your flight is cancelled, you will need a new COE – Certificate Of Entrance – you may need a new fit-to-fly health certificate if the one you have no longer meet the 72 hours requirement.)

3. A fit-to-fly health certificate issued no longer than 72 hours before departure.

4. A Covid-Free Health Certificate issued no longer than 72 hours before departure.

This is where it all got a bit tricky in my head. First of all I already paid the ASQ hotel but they would not refund me if I cancelled less than 72 hours before arrival. The Covid test and Fit-to-fly test needed to be done within 72 hours before departure, so if I came back positive, I would have lost my money that I paid to the ASQ and have to go through ALL the same processes again, with all the additional cost.

I called the Dutch Government for a free Covid-19 test, but they wouldn’t give me the result through email, only through the phone, this meant I had to do the test at KLM Health services for Euro 149 (4,5450 baht). Secondly, I did not have a doctor in Holland that could give me a Fit-to-Fly document so I called my parents’ doctor and she was so friendly to sign off on the document for free!

The 72 hours before departure were hectic, I had to go to Amsterdam to get a Covid test, I had to go to The Hague to get my passport back with my new NON-O stamp – they would only do single entry at the time instead of multiple entries, and I had to visit the doctor for the fit-to-fly document as well. Besides that I had to book my ticket through a travel agent approved by the Thai Embassy.

It was stressing, waiting for the result of the KLM Covid test, and the next day. 36 hours before departure, they called me and told me they lost my test somewhere.

I got totally stressed and I could hear the woman on the other end of the phone was stressed as well. She told me she would call me back and hung up the phone without telling me when she would call. I waited nearly 2 hours in the car but it felt like a day and she called back and reported… “I have double good news; we found your test and you are negative”

I sent all the documents to the Thai Embassy and they replied with a last email with an attachment “Certificate Of Entrance” and that I needed to take the following documents to the airport:

• Certificate of Entry

• Covid-19 test result (English)

• Fit to fly document from the doctor (English)

• Insurance letter indicating that Covid-19 is also covered

• My ASQ (accommodation in Bangkok) confirmation

I printed out everything and on August 7, my father brought me to Schiphol Airport to catch the flight back to Bangkok, and knowing I wouldn’t return to Holland for at least 6 months, maybe longer, I felt a bit emotional.

The plane arrived at Suvarnabhumi Airport around noon on August 8. I was lucky enough to be able to get off the plane in the first group.

I walked out of the plane and what I saw was surrealistic, like being in on the set of a Hollywood disaster movie. Men and women in fully-covered white hazmat suits. Over 300 chairs lined up for the passengers to sit on whilst they waited for arrival processing.

I was sitting in the front row and immediately a woman (I think it was a woman, difficult to tell with the full white suit and PPE gear) came to me and asked me for all my printed documents. The next step was to go to the next hall were we had to sit in lines of 5 people to get the next check. Then we had to go to Immigration and 2 officers were doing passport checks. I then ended up at the arrival hall to collect my suitcase and 8 minutes later I was in a hospital van again with drivers, also fully covered in white suits and PPE, that took me to my hotel.

When we arrived at the hotel, it was the same story. Everything was like I was in a movie… nurses checking my temperature, the reception taking my credit card, the doorman cleaning my suitcase. I had to put on a plastic cover over my shoes and they took me to my room.

I first took a LONG shower to wash away all the stress from the trip and arrival, and then lay on my bed overlooking the Chao Phraya River realising the impact of the “new normal” and the total cost of my endeavour to return to Thailand with a new visa – over 300.000 baht. Besides that, I had now been away for a total of almost 8 weeks, instead of the planned 4 weeks. I miss my kids and my wife.

On the third day I received a Covid test in the hotel and that was negative. From that moment they gave me 1.5 hour per day to go to the relaxation area of the hotel. I walk for an hour to get the blood flowing and drank lots of soda water. I hadn’t been drinking any alcohol for many years already, but according to the Thai law, its forbidden to drink alcohol in an ASQ hotel.

I received 3 meals a day and can order additional room service if I want to. My room was cleaned every 3 days by a cleaning lady, again in a full white hazmat suit which looks like she is cleaning an ICU room.

I read books, watched a bit of Netflix and called with my wife and family to keep me busy. It was challenging, but I noticed that once I accepted the fact that there was no other way, it became easier being in a 35 square metre room 22,5 hours per day.

I also had a lot of time to think about the future… on one side I am very proud of Thailand keeping Covid outside the country. On the other side I had been planning to open my rehab centre in July, then it became September, now it will definitely not be before January next year, or maybe even later. I am completely depending on foreign patients that travel to Thailand to stay in my facility.

What is the future going to look like even when they open the borders again? I noticed that as a frequent flyer, flying wasn’t fun anymore. We can’t ask tourist to go through the same process as I did to enter Thailand. I don’t think they will come if we ask them to go through all the paperwork, hassles and the “shite suit welcome”. I certainly couldn’t ask my patients to do so, they would already have the personal fears of confronting their detox and rehabilitation as well.

Then I think to myself… I am still lucky to have my wife, my kids, some money in the bank to survive, a new visa, a new business that opens in the future, being healthy and I am certain that at the end everything will always be OK.

“Everything will be alright in the end so if it is not alright it is not the end” – The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

Theo

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60 Comments

60 Comments

  1. Avatar

    RS

    Sunday, August 16, 2020 at 10:27 am

    Very interesting & detailed story Theo. Remarkable perseverance and so many hoops you’ve jumped through to get what you needed done and finally home with your family. Congratulations for that. And all the best with your new rehab center endeavor. Thanks for posting this Thaiger!

    • Avatar

      Mylal

      Sunday, August 16, 2020 at 11:27 am

      I agree .difficult times a clock work oraange..?⛄????

    • Avatar

      J

      Tuesday, August 18, 2020 at 5:42 pm

      Why not just fly the wife and kids to Holland? What’s this fanaticism to “live in Thailand”. It’s borderline psychotic. There are farang sleeping rough, others jumping off rooftops….why not just go home?

      • Avatar

        Rinky Stingpiece

        Thursday, August 20, 2020 at 3:58 am

        Have you ever been to Holland? There are farang sleeping rough and jumping off rooftops there as well!

      • Avatar

        Roy Buteneers

        Saturday, August 22, 2020 at 10:34 pm

        Cause in Holland people don’t die of stupid things? Load of bs.

  2. Avatar

    bobby

    Sunday, August 16, 2020 at 10:44 am

    Hi Theo, thanks for detailing your experience, it puts so many things into perspective. I admire your dedication and wish you and your family and your new venture the best
    Regards

  3. Avatar

    John

    Sunday, August 16, 2020 at 11:03 am

    I think that journey / adventure was more stressful than the original business you had. I think you could open to the Thai tourist market at a cheaper price and get all the teething problems sorted before your main income comes back. Advertise as limited time only showing future price. This will be a gradual process of learning the business not immediate stress. Also it will give a source of income and confidence. Good luck with the endeavour.

    • Avatar

      Jilted John

      Thursday, August 20, 2020 at 10:40 am

      The stress and time spent in writing his experience is all worth the advertising of his new venture within.

      Of course it will be disclosed as ‘unintentional’ and could be true but not for and i actually congratulate his effort.

      Any advertising is good advertising…

  4. Avatar

    Rinky Stingpiece

    Sunday, August 16, 2020 at 12:25 pm

    Sounds ridiculous and expensive. This is not ebola or bubonic plague. Having disease controls is one thing, but they need to be relevant and proportionate. None of this seems economically sustainable. Analysis of the epidemiology is starting to reveal the limits of the real risk.

    • Avatar

      KIM TRAN

      Sunday, August 16, 2020 at 9:40 pm

      All this for a virus that kills less than 0.003 percent of those it infects.

      • Avatar

        Mai Lee

        Tuesday, August 18, 2020 at 3:40 pm

        Might want to redo your math… currently at 3.5% mortality rate. as of Aug 18 there have been 777,000 deaths out of 22,000,000 reported positive infections.

        • Avatar

          Lothar Scholz

          Thursday, August 20, 2020 at 2:02 am

          0.003 percent is too small but 0.3 is accurate.

          You cant just divide. You have to remove the first three month out of the statistics because at this time most people died from wrong treatment and not the virus.

          Only use number from mid may to today and then the number is indeed comparable to the normal flu.

        • Avatar

          Brock

          Monday, August 24, 2020 at 10:45 am

          58 “dead” in a country of 67 million… Enjoy your programmed FEAR Mai Lee. It’s sheep like you that is willfully consenting to the degradation of the worlds society.

        • Avatar

          Vas

          Tuesday, August 25, 2020 at 5:08 pm

          Many sources say the number of infected people is at least 10x times higher which brings the DR at maximum 0.3%, most likely less..

          • Avatar

            bdh

            Tuesday, September 22, 2020 at 11:54 am

            “with covid” not “from covid” covid. stay fearful sheeple.

        • Avatar

          martin jenkins

          Saturday, October 24, 2020 at 3:28 pm

          Your mortality rate is based on `infections` NOT population. Ever seen mortality rates for cancer or influenza etc, based on infections?
          Mortality rates in the UK are around 0.05% or 0.004% if under 60. These figures are based on the population of which anyone could become infected or worse from C19.
          In Thailand mortality figures are literally insignificant and depriving the whole population the rights to work and severely limiting freedoms based on 59 deaths out of 66 million people is beyond comprehension.

    • Avatar

      Mai Lee

      Tuesday, August 18, 2020 at 3:43 pm

      what analysis are you referring to?

      And correct, this is not ebola or bubonic plague. This is just a virus that kills 3.5% of the people it infects. Unlike Ebola it was NOT stopped before it spread globally, and unlike the Bubonic plague, we have modern medicines and accelerated vector transmission.

      They are taking it seriously, unlike so many western countries.

      • Avatar

        Mai Lee

        Tuesday, August 18, 2020 at 5:50 pm

        Incorrect. It kills 3.5% of the registered infections.

      • Avatar

        MailLee

        Tuesday, August 18, 2020 at 5:52 pm

        Oh and BTW you are not taking it seriously. You are panicking.

        • Avatar

          Richard

          Tuesday, August 25, 2020 at 5:21 pm

          And this is what you have to go through just for a holiday in Phuket when it opens, as another YT video have stated it is like a lock needing everything lined up to work and if one piece is broken the whole thing starts all over again.
          And that is not worth the time and effort to travel overseas for a vacation, Until such times where travel gets back to a point close to pre Covid.

      • Avatar

        Rinky Stingpiece

        Thursday, August 20, 2020 at 3:57 am

        Try coronavirus.jhu.edu/data/mortality

        The country with the highest death rate is San Marino with 124.32 deaths per 100,000, and that country is on the UK’s quarantine-free list.
        the country with the highest observed-case death ratio is Yemen with 28.4%.
        The country with the highest verified recorded number is the USA.
        You can make the statistics tell a range of different things depending on your agenda.

        However, we don’t really know how high those rates are in large-population developing countries like India, Indonesia, Nigeria, or Brazil.

        What is observable in the most credible verified death records is that the co-morbities are people who are obese, and have diseases associated with that. Also people who are old. And the most politically-sensitive category, people who are south-Asian.

        80% of people are not affected; and the next 16% are not affected very much. As you indicate, in a developed country only 4% of people are at serious risk.
        However, as the statistics show, you can’t simply do 22,000,000/777,000 and get a global death rate, because it varies dramatically from country to country for all kinds of reasons.

        One of the main reasons is the lack of testing, which means there is a lack of credible data from most of the world, which makes debating about it, a bit pointless, because the most accurate thing you can say, is that we don’t know how many people are affected in the world. What we can reasonably hypothesize is that most countries in the developing world with dense populations and poor sanitation and under-resourced health systems, and with very tactile cultures, the impact is going to be worse than other places.

        Thailand in terms of statistics is in the top few countries for lack of health risk, for a number of reasons. The main risk in Thailand is economic harm and civil strife if the economy is not opened up.

        Western countries are not a monolith any more than “Eastern Countries” are… they’re all different, and most of them take it seriously and are trying to balance the need to have a functioning economy to pay for the the health impact of the illness. Taking it seriously does including having a proper testing regime, and maintaining economic activity… as you can see around the world, when economics is harmed, people riot, and virus spreads even more, and the systems to keep it under control fail.

        Ebola and Bubonic plague are very different illnesses and can’t spread anywhere near the way an airborne virus like coronaviruses can.

      • Avatar

        Jason Liu

        Thursday, August 20, 2020 at 4:12 am

        Just exactly what did Thailand or other Asian countries do so dramatically different that “reported” cases are so low? I was in Bangkok in January and there was no indication that Thailand would get lockdown until they finally had no choice to. So masks and lockdowns? That’s the solution? Well you know that’s just what they are doing in the west. The questions that need to be raised are how many citizens are getting tested? How are they getting reported? What type of tests are they using? Until all data points are revealed, nobodies knows anything.

        • Avatar

          Michael Lewis

          Tuesday, August 25, 2020 at 8:11 pm

          Jason, the version of covid-19 that came to Thailand early 2020 was not the same as the version that hit Europe and the US according to WHO. The version in Thailand was not easily transmitted from person to person. Thai’s are now bringing in the EU and US version which can be readily transmitted pers to pers. See reports last month.

      • Avatar

        Rob

        Tuesday, September 29, 2020 at 5:26 pm

        Mai Lee, the virus has a 99.7% survival rate, by the CDC’s own figures. Average age of death is 80.

        Your calculations are wrong – you are only diving deaths and reported infections.

        MOST people – 95% have zero symptoms, which means most people don’t even realise they have it and therefore never get tested.

        Also the tests have many false positives and many deaths where people died of cancer but tested positive for covid were put down as a covid death.

        It’s a common flue virus – this is about changing human society and bringing in a global system of control, not a virus.

        • The Thaiger & The Nation

          The Thaiger & The Nation

          Tuesday, September 29, 2020 at 5:50 pm

          It is NOT a “common flu virus”. It is a coronavirus. Your other ‘statistics’ are also playing with mathmatics.

  5. Avatar

    Perceville Smithers

    Sunday, August 16, 2020 at 3:06 pm

    I feel like I experienced myself just reading it.

    This is the first time I’ve heard of a passenger needing a fit to fly form without having been hospitalized.

    • Avatar

      Roy Buteneers

      Saturday, August 22, 2020 at 10:39 pm

      This guy must be really dumb, leaving the country to obtain a visa while he actually was permitted to stay? I call this story BS.

  6. Avatar

    alan hamer

    Sunday, August 16, 2020 at 3:14 pm

    Very well detailed report yes..beaurocracy at its best(worse)?.was it about 1000 euro for your flight??your lucky you hv the money to do it..many more got to ride this out and wait for scheduled flites to rtn..next year??!
    Good luck Theo

  7. Avatar

    Gosport

    Sunday, August 16, 2020 at 3:18 pm

    Good luck for your new enterprise.

  8. Avatar

    BC

    Sunday, August 16, 2020 at 6:57 pm

    Thanks for that very informative message. Congrats on getting back in. Best of luck with your future project.

  9. Avatar

    Edy F.

    Sunday, August 16, 2020 at 9:35 pm

    The whole world has turned to madness.. it’s a satanic plan orchestrated by the WHO, this criminal organization, on the aim to create a world dictature for the profit of some billionaires. Covid19 is a smokescreen.

    • Avatar

      Sami

      Wednesday, August 19, 2020 at 5:38 pm

      Fully agree!!!!!!!

  10. Avatar

    Dave's Not Here

    Monday, August 17, 2020 at 11:06 am

    …and when you get out of the hospital, you can hop on a motorbike race away without wearing a helmet. In other words, is this really about protecting everyone here, or is it about control and a sign of power?

  11. Avatar

    harry1

    Monday, August 17, 2020 at 6:00 pm

    a complicated way of going about things ? but hey your back with the family and well done for cutting thru the rules

  12. Avatar

    Patrick

    Tuesday, August 18, 2020 at 2:53 pm

    This just tells us that the way it goes in Thailand is just ridiculous, un-logical and totally out of perspective and unsustainable. The world is mad, but Thailand is on top of madness. It ain’t Ebola folks… Killing its tourism sector fast and determined for the next decade.

    This just shows the rules are there to stop people from coming. All for a virus that’s just a bit worse than Influenza (if you’re one of those who say ‘but it AINT’T just a flu!’, please read more about flu-related deaths each and every year and that’s without being in the spotlight like covid; flu is way underrated WHO!).

    WTH goes on here. China sentiment and all… shows the powers that be are onto something.
    Oo, I’m pretty sure this virus is here to stay, just like Influenza. Thailand plays and will arrange a freak out on one inside infection. I guess the gov needs power. Also a certain specific Thai in Germany can come and go whenever he likes to, but mostly stays out-of-the-picture ;

    This story just basically says: it’s near impossible to arrange a flight into Thailand, even if you have many legit reasons. The created bureaucracy, hoops and kinks and sense of danger and gambling is madness.

  13. Avatar

    Sam W

    Tuesday, August 18, 2020 at 4:04 pm

    Aren’t the 400,000 and 800,000 baht numbers mixed up? With respect I think they’re the other way round.

    • Avatar

      Andrew W

      Wednesday, August 26, 2020 at 2:27 pm

      No, when I applied for a Non-O Retirement visa it was ฿800k in a Thai bank account for several weeks beforehand, but for a Retirement visa with Thai Spouse it was ฿400k. Odd way round, you’d think you would need more money if you have dependents. I applied in Thailand as I already had a Spouse visa so didn’t need to go back to the UK. It was very easy at the helpful local Immigration Office though, oddly, I had to wait around 4 weeks for it to be approved, whereas if I had applied for the Retirement visa it would have been same day. I didn’t as the balance had dipped below ฿800K for a few days 3 or 4 weeks previously.

      • Avatar

        Jon

        Thursday, August 27, 2020 at 3:58 pm

        And yet nobody thinks it’s crazy that a perfectly healthy, adult Thai women is classed as a ‘dependant, ?! That’s the madness of the expats right there.

  14. Avatar

    tim_houston

    Tuesday, August 18, 2020 at 4:23 pm

    Thanks for sharing the story. There must be a proportionality between the measures taken and the danger we want to avoid. Do they want to prevent people from getting sick for their whole life? It’s hard to avoid that. So what’s the point right now?

  15. Avatar

    Fredrick

    Tuesday, August 18, 2020 at 4:45 pm

    I just paid 40k for a 1 year visa… picked up from my reception and got it back 2 days later… didn’t have to do anything…

    Crazy 🙂

    • Avatar

      Jilted John

      Thursday, August 20, 2020 at 10:34 am

      I suppose you ‘didn’t have to do anything’ to obtain 40k?

  16. Avatar

    Randy Lahey

    Wednesday, August 19, 2020 at 3:09 pm

    Honestly the guy put himself in this situation. when you can get it done in country you had to leave didn’t you. There are agents that can do this for a lot less than what you paid in total. May this be a lesson to you in the future.

  17. Avatar

    Sami

    Wednesday, August 19, 2020 at 5:23 pm

    A very detailed and well-written article to give us an insight into the horrors of going to Thailand now. Very sad for a place that we used to love to go to in a jiffy. Not that I am even the least bt surprised looking at the narrow-minded rigid policy of the Thai government totally opposite to the common Thai people.

  18. Avatar

    Alex

    Friday, August 21, 2020 at 12:10 am

    Covid-19 hoax! The flu kills more people then Corona ever will! Killer virus? What a joke!

  19. Avatar

    Genevieve Hawkins

    Friday, August 21, 2020 at 4:28 pm

    Thanks Theo for sharing. I wish my story had gone different today but it did not, and I have to believe that is for a reason. To wit I am trying to return to Phuket to my Thai husband with my 7 year old dual Thai US citizen daughter. I have been away from Thailand since March 18 right before the lockdown craziness started. I was trying to make him a visa to come to the USA, as my daughter was struggling in Thailand school and is much better in USA school. Then the madness started we’ve been seperated ever since. My case is complex because my daughter is a Thai citizen/passport holder but I am not, and we are travelling together. It turns out there are two completely seperate tracks for Thai and non Thai, one in Thai language and one in English, with some different requirements. And two completely different people were handling each case, one consular officer in LA for me and one consular officer in New York for my 7 year old. So we got everything together we thought. Booked repatriation flights for Asiana Airlines today, health insurance, ASQ, everything. The problem was my Covid-19 test results had not come back yet they could make no guarantee they would be there within the 72 hours before your flight window to get tested. I asked the consular officer in LA about that, told him that I didn’t have test results back and what would happen if I didn’t? He didn’t seem that concerned which made me think, as some ASQ hotels advertise that they can test on the first day, that maybe it wasn’t needed. MY daughter was very tricky no one seemed to know, because she’s Thai but also my daughter so I’d need to consent to any medical procedures. The consular officer said they’d be in LA for us. Got our certficate of Entry printed everything looked good. Flew to LA from Las Vegas this morning. When I went to talk to the Thai lady arranging paperwork, I told her my Covid-19 test results weren’t back. She made no bones about it. “You talk up front abut cancel your flight! Your daughter she okay!” Very strict and unflexible for a test that nobody in Vegas would guarantee would have results in less than the window of time I am allowed to take it on.This had me reeling the flight wasn’t for four hours results could pop in any minute plus it would cost $1000 to rebook both our tickets plus change fees on ASQ I haven’t put as much money as Theo in but I’m still out close to $5000. So the results of my Covid-19 test popped up on my smart phone as I was waiting in line! Negative of course. What a miracle. So I came to the front showing the lady at the ticket counter all of my paperwork and my smart phone. She handed us our boarding passes. I can finally see my husband again! I was feeling great after all the stress of this. Until they called us up to the flight counter. They wanted to recheck our documents. My daughter, who the consular agent had said was okay downstairs, did not have a fit to fly form. I didn’t know she needed one as I knew she didn’t need a Covid test and its a confusing mess to translate the Thai for her. Once again no flexibility about this. I was beside myself. I had talked on the phone 20 times with the consular officer in New York she had helped accurately translate some Thai documents for my daughter’s stuff. We have a book sized stack of documents and a confusing mess of paperwork. At first I thought this could be sorted easily. No, they explained at the flight counter, Thailand have new rule you can not fly without hers. I called my consular officer in New York. She called me back told me to call the emergency hotline in LA. They wouldn’t help me. In the end they ripped up our nonrefundable $2000 airplane tickets and told us better luck next time. I still don’t even know where our checked bag is nobody brought it back for me. So I rented a car and am in a hotel in California. Cost of this unsuccessful excursion several thousand dollars. I really can’t ring up another bill like that and now that they’ve violated trust like that I can’t help but wonder if the plea to get foreigners over is a milk the farang excursion for a few fat cat insiders. I saw two other white females but they never made it past the first consular officer so at least they could get a partial refund on their flight. The limbo pole is down to 6 inches. My money ran out but maybe that’s good, as I’d be in a precarious situation bringing my daughter into quarantine. What if they medically seperated us for some ginned up reason, just to force me to pay to get her back? It sounds like medical kidnapping but it also sounds like Thailand is quickly descending into a totalitarian nightmare. My husband is beside himself I’m devastated but trying to believe all things happen for a reason. I would not recommend this without very deep pockets, a willingness to be poked prodded tracked and monitored like cattle, and a steel resolve in the face of some deeply anti farang sentiment. In other words, I wouldn’t recommend it. I’m still thinking about my next move my husband has been approved for his visa to come to the USA, but that’ll take months from here. Checking other countries we maybe can all get to to meet up. The current mess is not sustainable…

    • Avatar

      Jerry Smythe

      Tuesday, August 25, 2020 at 7:53 pm

      Wow, sorry to hear that Genevieve, you would think there would be some flexibility on the fit to fly for your child as quite honestly it’s useless as far screening for Covid. I’m also preparing to go through the process from here in the US (thankfully my wife is traveling with me). The 72 hour turnaround on a PCR Covid test is what I’m worried about. Might be better to just fly to Phuket as a “tourist” once they open on Oct 1st, for the 3 weeks (since we will be going back to our home in Thailand after that).

      • Avatar

        Genevieve Hawkins

        Tuesday, August 25, 2020 at 11:50 pm

        I’ve considered the Phuket tourist angle especially as we live in Phuket.The problem is the ASQ hotels that they are teaming up with are extremely expensive like $3500 to $10,000 for your 14 day stay. I don’t really see anyone going through this process unless they are extremely motivated. Best of luck with your journey at least you do have your wife with you! Even my negative Covid test did come back last minute but on time the doctor who evaluated me had some choice words regarding the tests. All the casino workers in Las Vegas have to get tested on a regular basis but it’s causing more problems as a lot of completely asymptomatic people are testing positive. You can’t run a functioning society in which a single positive test is grounds for shutting everything down again. Right now though Thais are still very scared. A lot of them are suffering economically and they blame whitey for it: If us dumb ao farang had just worn masks, and washed our hands, and not ignored social distancing, this virus would be over in the world and Thailand could go back to normal. In the past Thai immigration officers have been very flexible, understanding, and sympathetic towards me. I’m a strange and memorable case as an American woman with a Thai man. But not this time the immigration woman at LAX was very soup nazi. A new rule just popped up out of nowhere right before boarding and then, get out. The only white person I did see in the boarding area for this flight was an older gentleman with what appeared to be his Thai wife, so I’m going to bet you’ll have better luck. But it’s still a stress inducing nightmare best with it!

  20. Avatar

    John

    Friday, August 21, 2020 at 5:00 pm

    We came to London in March and thought we might have to quarantine for 14 days at home on return which we though would be no problem. Then the UK shut down on the 20th (I mean most of the places were shut and encouraged not to go out), and flight cancelled on the 27th or something like that. Then we had to find a place to live (we were staying with my mother) and had to buy a car instead of renting one (quite cheap in the UK), open a bank account, and get car insurance. All quite hard during Covid. But we managed to get it done. Finding a a new place to live until it was all over was not easy. My wife went back on the 16th of August and had to pay an additional 687 Pounds one way flight for her to stay in State Quarantine where she is now. I will wait it out until November or December until sanity prevails and see what transpires in the UK. It was an interesting read though the and the hoops that people have to go through. I think keeping this infection rates at zero is ridiculous, and they have to open the country. Most other countries are open. I also think that Australia’s response borders on the insane. I read this morning they shit down the State of Victoria with 7 million people because of 3 cases. I mean Geezus people get a grip.

    I think now the UK has got it largely right – borders are open. You may have to quarantine at home depending which country you come from, and no Covid test — although they are seeing if they can do that free at the airport. They know the cost of the Covid test is outweighed by the money people bring into the country. The economy has to keep going to pay for all of this.

  21. Avatar

    Peter

    Saturday, August 22, 2020 at 3:01 am

    What a saga. You put yourself, your family, and Thailand at risk of the virus by leaving and coming back.

    Seems like a costly and also very risky trip that could have been totally avoided if you stayed and just went through the process locally.

    • Avatar

      Andrew W

      Wednesday, August 26, 2020 at 2:36 pm

      You can only apply for a Non-O visa locally if you already have 1. You have to apply for your first one at the Thai Embassy in your own country (at least, this is what I was told by the Thai Embassy in the UK and the local Immigration Office here).
      As he was here on a tourist visa – his work permit had lapsed due to him selling his business – he had no choice at the time (though the tourist visa amnesty was then extended to late September).

  22. Avatar

    John Cat

    Saturday, August 22, 2020 at 8:43 pm

    What a disaster Genevieve

    I really feel for you, after all that effort and expense and they could care less and just rip the tickets up. Shameful. Best to print something out before you go.

    In London they are saying you can use these services but they costs close to 100 Pounds or more. All online I think. Right now flying to Thailand is like playing Russian Roulette and would not recommend it unless you have to.

    https://www.londondoctorsclinic.co.uk/

    https://www.one5.health/

    https://doctap.co.uk/

    https://gogodoc.com/

    https://medicspot.co.uk

  23. Avatar

    C has Du t

    Sunday, August 23, 2020 at 11:01 am

    Good story. Thank you Theo

  24. Avatar

    Bugsy

    Sunday, August 23, 2020 at 6:26 pm

    This whole story sounds silly, but for most people it seems to hard to think for theselfs

  25. Avatar

    John

    Monday, August 24, 2020 at 5:43 pm

    The virus will be with us forever. And there is no way around that. It means that Thailand will have to keep these strict lockdown/ lockout in place. If they were serious they would make the quarantine a fixed price (not the best) but better than it is now. Who needs to quarantine in a 5 star hotel for Frigs sake. You can’t even go out the room. Some Thias support this measure but complain about the economy and you can;t have it both ways. Economic success and strict lockdowns/ lockouts. Here is an interesting article I read today by the Atlantic which explains quite a lot about viruses and why Covid 19 is unlikely to go away.

    Also wish to note that Singapore and UK are talking about with a Covid test getting quarantine down to 5 days — so why can Thailand not do this, or are they just trying to make money.

    https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2020/08/coronavirus-will-never-go-away/614860/

  26. Avatar

    rinky stingpiece

    Tuesday, August 25, 2020 at 6:23 pm

    Why do they keep reposting this same article?!

    • The Thaiger & The Nation

      The Thaiger & The Nation

      Wednesday, August 26, 2020 at 10:49 am

      Because people keep reading it. It has been the most popular of our posts in the last few weeks and we want to provide the best access to the most popular posts.

  27. Avatar

    Gy

    Tuesday, August 25, 2020 at 6:49 pm

    This looks more a marketing post for promoting his rehab business. Useless article depicting a useless and expensive experience nobody mentally fit would do. Maybe you should be your first client in that rehab place. Funny though.

  28. Avatar

    KN

    Thursday, August 27, 2020 at 2:57 am

    I had very much the same experience and to some level, the same stress. My wife is Thai and her process was very simple as compared to mine but we got all the necessary paperwork in and was able to secure a certificate of entry. The Thai consulate in LA was very helpful in the process and I had several conversations with them that helped me navigate the paperwork as has been described.The stresses came in the form of getting a covid test with results within 72 hours, with a number of people getting covid tests there was no guarantee that the results would get in on time. We did find a place where they would rush the swab test. My wife was not required to get one but I thought that it would be prudent for her to get one also. Getting a fit to fly certification, no medical center in Hawaii even heard of it, fortunately we were able to go to a clinic hours before our flight to LA and secure one even though they had never seen or heard of one prior. The most stressful however was waiting for my passport to be delivered, not the fault of the Thai embassy, rather FedEx home delivery. I chose this method because the website stated that it would do weekend deliveries, not knowing when they would send it out I felt this would be the safest. The person I spoke with about the return label told me that it would be about a 3-4 day delivery as it should be a straight shot from LA to Hawaii, unfortunately it was 9 days and came in on the day of my flight to LA. Fortunately everything worked out and I am currently in quarantine with my first test done with a negative result. 8 more days and I will be able to see my wife who is in another facility and go to our home.

    • Avatar

      CC

      Saturday, August 29, 2020 at 12:07 pm

      How long did it take from the time u applied for visa and CoE till the time u got it? Website says give at least 15 working days? Is that really enough?

      • Avatar

        KN

        Sunday, August 30, 2020 at 11:20 am

        I got it approved before the 15 working days that they state, but it was about that when I received my passport with the visa, again not the fault of the Embassy. I think if you have all the paperwork prior to sending it in then it is a fairly painless process. I was on the flight that the woman was not allowed to board and contrary to her story the two young women see referred to did make it to Thailand and there were about 6 other, not including myself, foreigners that were on the flight also. I am not Caucasian so it may have been easy to think that I am Thai,

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Nightlife plays major role in Covid-19 third wave

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Nightlife plays major role in Covid-19 third wave | Thaiger
FILE PHOTO: Krystal Club Thonglor25 is one of many high-end clubs where Covid-19 spread

The current surge in Covid-19 infections now looks to be spread in large part by Thailand’s colourful nightlife, with more than 500 people contracting the more contagious UK variant (B117) of the Coronavirus. The government responded by closing all bars and entertainment venues in 41 provinces, but it may be too late to prevent a third wave of the pandemic. Many people now are critical, pointing to the first and second wave as harbingers of how the party nightlife can so easily transmit Covid-19.

At the beginning of the pandemic, partiers in Bangkok’s Thong Lor area began testing positive for Covid-19 last March. The Public Health Ministry instructed everyone to follow safety measures to prevent a big outbreak. The area is well known to be a hotspot for Bangkok’s wealthy elite and powerful with its multitude of high-end luxury clubs and bars.

A normal night has thousands of people roaming the streets into the late hours of the evening. But after infections started spreading, all nightlife was closed until July when Thailand overall had gained some control and contained the Coronavirus more successfully than most countries. In fact, it would be months before any new infections were diagnosed in the area.

While it’s commonly known that the next wave of Covid-19 in Thailand started mainly from migrant workers and low wage market workers, even the second round of infections was proliferated by people enjoying the nightlife around Thailand. There was a case of a woman in the North who went to several bars before knowing that she had contracted the virus in January, and, when the details of her bar-hopping were released, many customers of a bar she attended in Chiang Mai had already contracted Covid-19 as well. Meanwhile, in Bangkok, Techin “DJ Matoom” Ploypetch held a lavish all-night party in a luxury hotel in January. Facing criminal charges for violating Covid-19 restrictions, he has recovered from the virus himself but the party became a spreader event. None of these nightlife outbreaks stopped people from pouring back into the club scene as soon as it reopened in February.

Now Thailand is facing a massive shutdown with the threat of a third wave of Covid-19 inescapable. One major factor in the rapidly spreading infections is trendy evening entertainment venues around Bangkok, Phuket, and Pattaya among other areas. A 35-year-old man who contracted Covid-19 reported he had been partying in Thong Lor the month before. Testing clubgoers from bars and entertainment venues in the area revealed an outbreak of Covid-19 infections.

Krystal Club Thonglor25 gained attention as powerful politicians and the wealthy elite that frequent the club so often it’s nicknamed “Government House 2”. 1/3 of Thailand’s cabinet ministers are currently self-isolating and it was rumoured that the Transport Minister had gotten C0vid-19 from visiting the infamous Krystal Club, though rumours were later dispelled.

But growing anger has emerged towards the upscale party-going set, with the hashtag #thonglorpub trending across social media since Wednesday, and many people complaining as the country closes down entertainment venues for the next two weeks and maybe facing further lockdown procedures.

The bar and club scene is a hotspot for Covid clusters since social distancing and mask-wearing are rarely enforced, in poorly ventilated rooms with throngs of tightly packed people. A list has emerged of high society hot spots where anyone in attendance in the past few weeks is being requested to get Covid-19 tests right away after customers at each has tested positive for covid.

  • Krystal Club Thonglor25
  • Bar Bar Bar,
  • Ekamai Beer House,
  • Emerald Thonglor13
  • Dirty Bar
  • Bottoms up Thonglor
  • AINU Hokkaido lzakaya & Bar
  • the Cassette Music Bar Ekamai
  • 63 Music House Ekamai

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Big Covid-19 numbers today: 789 new infections, 1 death

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Big Covid-19 numbers today: 789 new infections, 1 death | Thaiger
FILE PHOTO: A surge in new infections as people are tested following nightlife clusters.

789 new Covid-19 infections and 1 death were reported today by the CCSA. The death, a 68 year old Thai man from Nakhon Pathom, had died April 4 but was yesterday confirmed as dying from complications from Coronavirus. Only 8 infections were international arrivals, with 522 local infections and 259 diagnosed today through contact tracing.

The international infections were Thai and foreigners and included 3 arriving from Russia and 1 each from the US, UK, Oman, India, and Canada. 33 former patients are now fully recovered from the virus and discharged in the past 24 hours.

Earlier today 17 new infections were identified in Phuket and will go into tomorrow’s official national count. This brings the island’s total new infections this week to 43, almost all of them a result of an influx of Bangkok party-goers to events last weekend.

This new jump in Covid-19 brings the total infections in Thailand to 31,658 – c28,463 local cases and 3,195 internationally imported cases, 17,000+ of those cases were diagnosed from proactive testing. 28,161 have been released as ‘recovered’ with 2,645 people currently undergoing treatment and 97 total deaths.

Thailand is now 113th on the list of most cases globally, with the USA’s 31.8 million infections still more than the next 3 countries combined – Brazil with 13.37 million, India with 13.2 million, and France with 4.98 million. Russia rounds out the top 5 with 4.62 million infections.

The global total is up almost 800,000 to 135.29 million cases with 23.3 million active cases, just over 100,000 of which are considered in critical condition. 108,86 million have recovered from the virus, and 2.92 million have died, including 13,268 today.

Big Covid-19 numbers today: 789 new infections, 1 death | News by Thaiger

SOURCE: The Nation Thailand

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Privatising Covid vaccines – Thai government gives private hospitals the go-ahead to buy vaccines

Tim Newton

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Privatising Covid vaccines – Thai government gives private hospitals the go-ahead to buy vaccines | Thaiger

“About 10,000 people are being vaccinated around Thailand, on average, with 14,000 people being vaccinated each day in Phuket.”

Private hospitals and institutions have been given the official go-ahead to purchase up to 10 million doses of approved Covid-19 vaccines. The purchases will be in addition to what the Thai government is also doing. The major sticking point, despite the approval, however, continues to be the world supply shortage of vaccines, with demand far outstripping current supply.

The CCSA’s Dr. Taweesilp Visanuyothin announced that the Thai PM had approved the privatisation of vaccines but maintained that the roll out of free vaccines for Thais and people at risk would continue at full pace. The Thai government have been fending off accusations that it was blocking the acquisition of vaccines by private companies and hospitals. The 10 million doses approved for private purchases actually allows about 5 million vaccinated people with most of the approved vaccines needing 2 doses.

The spokesperson explained that the Thai government needs to have 40 million Thais vaccinated before they would be able to claim any scientific level of herd immunity. The public health minister said that around 10,000 people per day are being vaccinated around the country, on average. About 350,000 doses have arrived in Thailand and 1.5 million more doses are awaiting delivery for this month, according to the Thai PM.

The order allows the private sector to use a letter of approval from the Thai government to purchase its own supplies separately. Or, alternatively, to purchase directly from the government and resell to customers.

The government’s current order for vaccines is enough for around 35 million people with a local supplier, manufacturing the Oxford/Astrazeneca vaccine under license, from June this year.

Dr Taweesilp also urged private companies to target and purchase vaccines from manufacturers other than the vaccine companies the Thai government were already dealing with.

The following vaccines are currently approved in Thailand…

  • AZD1222 by AstraZeneca/Oxford University (2 doses)
  • ARS-CoV-2 (CoronaVac) by Sinovac (2 doses)
  • NT162b2/CORMIRNATY – Tozinameran by Pfizer/BioNTech (2 doses)
  • Covishield (ChAdOx1_nCoV19) by the Serum Institute of India (2 doses)
  • Ad26.COV2.S by the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson (Single dose)
  • mRNA-1273 by Moderna (2 doses)

There are also current applications pending from other vaccine producers which will likely be approved in coming weeks.

Many expats have been chasing information about when they could expect to be vaccinated. Despite some promises from the government there has been little concrete information about formalities to register for vaccination at this stage. Meanwhile many expats have indicated they were prepared to pay for their vaccination but were unable to get clarification from private hospitals about when that may be available.

In Phuket the provincial government has promised ALL registered residents, local or foreign, that they would be eligible for government-funded vaccination. There has been a flurry of activity on the island over the past 2 weeks since the ‘Sandbox’ proposal was approved, in principal, for a July re-opening of quarantine-free tourism to vaccinated travellers. There has been queues and waiting lists at the island’s public hospitals every day for the past week. Currently some 14,000 people are being vaccinated every day, on average.

Meanwhile, the events of the past few days – the closure of entertainment venues and bars in 41 provinces, including all the main tourist areas – will force the government to re-consider any scheduled plans to re-open borders and reduction of quarantine times. Travellers are still allowed to visit Thailand, under new guidelines introduced on April 1, 2021.

What you currently need to enter Thailand…

  • Vaccine certificate, either a print out or the original document (or vaccinated travellers)
  • Certificate of Entry issued by the Royal Thai Embassy in your country
  • Covid-19 health insurance with a minimum coverage of US$100,000
  • Booking confirmation for an Alternative State Quarantine (ASQ) hotel
  • Negative Covid-19 test issued no more than 72 hours before departure

Anyone considering travelling to Thailand at this time is recommended to check with the Thai embassy in their country first, before making bookings of ASQ hotels or flights.

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