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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

No date for resumption of international arrivals: PM

Jack Burton

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No date for resumption of international arrivals: PM | The Thaiger
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In an apparent effort to quell rumours and undue optimism, PM Prayut Chan-o-cha is downplaying the notion that international tourists will be allowed to return to Thailand in July. The government had set a tentative deadline of 1 July for lifting all restrictions put in place under the Emergency Decree to combat the spread of Covid-19. Last week it was reported the lifting of restrictions would mean that international arrivals would resume from July 1.

But yesterday the Thai PM said Thailand still has a long way to go in its fight against the virus before international tourists can be allowed to return. He added that the issue hasn’t yet been even discussed by the Cabinet, and that only tourists from certain countries may be allowed to visit Thailand, namely those where the outbreak is deemed to be under control.

When tourists are eventually allowed back in, he said, they’ll face “a number of restrictions” which he didn’t specify. This will include so called “travel bubbles,” using bilateral agreements with individual governments to help limit any further outbreak or second wave of infections.

The idea is similar to those enacted elsewhere as countries try to safely kickstart their tourism sectors.

In May, a “travel corridor” allowed people to travel between Seoul and 10 regions in China, including Shanghai, and in Europe, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania established their own travel bubble on May 15.

Australia and New Zealand have discussed plans to resume travel between the 2 countries, potentially as early as September.

The news comes as Tourism Authority of Thailand’s governor said last week he doesn’t expect international tourists to return to Thailand until later in the year.

“It is still dependent on the outbreak situation, but I think at the earliest, we may see the return of tourists in the fourth quarter of this year.”

If and when foreign tourists can return to Thailand, there will likely be restrictions in place to determine where they can visit. The resumption of any form of tourism will also rely heavily on airlines, most of which are struggling with huge financial losses and grappling with restarting flights in a very new international travel paradigm.

The PM has said he is in no rush to open up the borders, reminding reporters that all the new infections are now coming from repatriating Thais.

“We are not going to open all at once. We are still on high alert, we just can’t let our guards down yet. We have to look at the country of origin to see if their situation has truly improved. And lastly, we have to see whether our own business operators are ready to receive tourists under the ‘new normal’.”

A ban on all international travel in and out of Thailand remains in place until at least the end of June. The CAAT have made no comment at this stage about dates for a possible resumption of flights from Thailand’s international airports. Phuket Airport remains closed to all traffic.

SOURCE: thaivisa

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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Peter Wilson

    June 3, 2020 at 8:45 pm

    One very much forgotten problem is that there are many people here who, like me, are stranded in Thailand and who cannot leave the country to go home to work etc until the embargo on foreign flights is lifted. I came here for a two week break in late March, and I am still here, and will be until July at the earliest. It is costing me a lot of money to stay, and I cannot work from here. I have lived alone and have not seen my family since I arrived. At least please open the bars so we can have a bit of a social life, as Covid is very much under control internally. Fortunately I am mentally strong and although I love Thailand very much, I do now need to go home.

    • Avatar

      Kent Smith

      June 4, 2020 at 6:41 am

      What kind of idiot would have traveled internationally in late March? Were you living under a rock and unable to see the news?

  2. Avatar

    Derek Carroll

    June 3, 2020 at 11:42 pm

    Hello, can anyone please advise me when the many thousands of travellers trapped in Thailand since travel options were cut off might be allowed to leave?

  3. Avatar

    ACE

    June 4, 2020 at 4:18 am

    Shut it down still, not until the COVID-19 vaccine is ready plus getting rid of that freaking 14-day quarantine. Or else, 2nd wave is coming up. I knew that the entertainment venues will open on June 15 but that’s only for locals, stranded tourists and expats who lives in Thailand forever.

  4. Avatar

    M

    June 4, 2020 at 6:04 am

    I don’t understand why the government can’t offer a 14 day quarantine at all the empty hotels. Put the empty hotels to use and make incoming traveler quarantine for 14 days and take a COVID-19 test, all costs charged to the traveler. I promise there are tens if not hundreds of thousands of foreigners who would take that deal.

  5. Avatar

    Sunny

    June 4, 2020 at 8:02 am

    A friend just returned to the UK early this week on KLM. Also Air France still flying out of BKK. For connections to US or Aus/NZ try ANA,ASIANA,Cathay Pacific. Getting back here is another story.

  6. Avatar

    Kevin Martyn

    June 4, 2020 at 8:25 am

    This cannot be pleasing news for all foreigners stuck outside Thailand since March who cannot return to there Thai spouse! And all those retirees foreigners who cannot get back into Thailand and NOT forgetting all those empty resorts and Hotels around Thailand which use to be frequented by westerner’s!

    • Avatar

      Jim

      June 4, 2020 at 12:19 pm

      Ditto here I am on a valid Thai Retirement Visa and stuck on Bali. I have an apartment in Bali and Thailand bank accounts. Everything I own is in Thailand and they will not allow me to return when I would willing go along with a quarantine or test me or whatever they need. They seem to be overlooking Expats that are stranded (perhaps willingly).

      I wish there was a way to bring together all the stranded Expats and speak as one group to the Thai government because just complaining as individuals gets blown off.

      • Avatar

        C.Corcoran

        June 7, 2020 at 1:13 pm

        Are in same boat mate,stuck in n.z waiting to get home to wife and boy in udon thani,its sounding like we are been bunched in with standard tourist requirements and have to wait in line with them,,,,,expats are tolerated in the the land of smiles by government not welcomed no matter how much good we do for communities and love the country……. If your eyes weren’t open before this hope are now to where the expats rate

  7. Avatar

    Sunny S

    June 4, 2020 at 10:51 am

    KLM, Asiana, ANA, Air France all still fly out of BKK

  8. Avatar

    Jim

    June 4, 2020 at 12:35 pm

    This article says PM Prayut Chan-o-cha might not re-open the country to International flights until December. I think it is discriminatory that they allow Thai citizens to return (with quarantine) but not long term residents on current visas who have apartments, bank accounts and all their possessions’ in Thailand. They should allow us to return with 14 day quarantine and a Covid test. When my return flight was cancelled (with not even a notice) I went to Thai Airways Manage at Bali airport and he said only Thai citizens can board even though I showed him my long term visa. They mistakenly think it is easy for Expats to return to their home country but they overlook the fact that stranded Expats have bank accounts and everything they own is in Thailand. They gave us a visa and they should honor it. It is very under-handed what they have done. Having to be stranded until i.e. December is ridiculous when there are Covid-19 tests and quarantine options available. It is really an over-the-top paranoid reaction by PM Prayut Chan-o-cha. I hope lawsuits will start flying or perhaps a class action lawsuit for being discriminated against.

  9. Avatar

    Clyde James

    June 4, 2020 at 3:47 pm

    Many foreigners that are stranded outside of Thailand belong to the “Mixed Foreign/Thai Families Community”. A new classification for Mixed Foreign/Thai Families needs to be recognized by Thailand’s immigration authority, simply because these particular foreigners are not short term visiting tourists, they are a permanent part of Thai society with families and homes in Thailand. With Thai relatives and relatives in many other countries, they represent a huge number of people that are simply unrecognized and underrepresented by Thai immigration authorities.
    The”Mixed Foreign/Thai Families Community” must be discussed and recognized by immigration authorities in their next meetings. Applying the same procedures for returning foreigners with work permits, procedures for their return can be published and these permanent members of Thai families and Thai society can be allowed to return home as soon as commercial flights are re-established.
    Surely Thailand’s families take priority over regular tourists or select tourist bubbles!

  10. Avatar

    Bob the Train

    June 5, 2020 at 7:18 am

    Thailand is a dictature and the actual junta doesn’t care about its own thai people so why would they care about stranded foreigners?

    The stigma that Thailand has left on them I hope would be felt for a long time.

    Thailand is the land of lies and there is no trust that can be accorded to its immensely corrupt government.

    Government right now is busy with inside fighting to know who will feast the most on the 2 trillions baht that they are going to distribute mostly among themselves…

    All that while their own people are starving.

  11. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    June 5, 2020 at 9:44 am

    What exactly is wrong with letting foreigners leave?
    If they have the virus they will not infect any more Thais. They would be out of the country.
    This is just one more example of the Thai policy of make it hard for the foreigner.
    Awkward bloody minded rules for the foreigner, similar to foreigners pay more to enter state parks, or attractions.
    All the condos and malls being built, let us see how well they pay when the country has no foreigners.
    They think foreigners will be returning after the treatment they have had, and the news gets out to others abroad? They are WRONG!
    By the way I am in Cambodia. I left just in time. No curfew. No alcohol ban, no distance requirements, and most places open that want to.

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

State quarantine for Thais entering Singapore, while harder hit nations get a pass

Jack Burton

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State quarantine for Thais entering Singapore, while harder hit nations get a pass | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Bloomberg

Singapore’s government will continue to require that all Thai arrivals to the city-state undergo a 14 day mandatory state quarantine before being allowed to enter the country and mingle with the general population.

Singapore, which has 45,298 total cases, says that Thais must serve their “Stay Home Notice” at dedicated government quarantine facilities. Arrivals from China, which has seen a total of 83,581 cases, Germany, with 198,765 cases, and Japan with 20,174, among other countries, will only need to be tested upon arrival and do not have to carry out their quarantine in government facilities. There has been no official explanation for the unfounded snub of people from Thailand.

Thailand was not included on a list of exempted countries, despite having only 3,197 cases out of a population greater than that of the UK.

Only days ago, the UK, with the eighth highest number of infections in the world, gave a similar snub to Thailand, actually including, then later removing, it from its “green light list,” despite the kingdom’s remarkable success in containing the virus, recovery rate of over 95% and no local infections for 44 consecutive days.

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

US delegation arrives, submits to Covid-19 screening

Jack Burton

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US delegation arrives, submits to Covid-19 screening | The Thaiger
PHOTOS: SMART Soldiers Strong ARMY Facebook page

The chief of staff of the US army, General James C. McConville, arrived in Thailand today with an entourage for a 2 day trip, at the invitation of the Royal Thai Army. He has also granted permission for the publication of the results of his Covid-19 swab test. McConville and his entourage landed at Bangkok’s Don Mueang Airport at 10:15am after completing an official visit to Singapore. The entire delegation had to undergo Covid-19 tests immediately upon arrival.

Army chief Apirat Kongsompong was on hand to welcome his guests as well as provide information on the preventive measures Thailand has taken, leading to its success in containing the spread of the virus, an extremely low mortality rate and a recovery rate of over 95%. The US delegation is the first group of government guests to arrive since the fifth phase of the easing of lockdown measures was announced.

The guests, as well as Thai Army officials, are required to strictly follow measures set out by the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration, including ensuring seats in all vehicles are partitioned, cleaned and sanitised as per guidelines.

The vehicles must also carry alcohol based sanitising gel and pads, waste bins for disposal, radio for communication with drivers and disinfectant spray for the driver to use to sanitise the vehicle.

The Thai Army chief says that if this system proves successfully, the government will use it for future official visits.

US delegation arrives, submits to Covid-19 screening | News by The ThaigerUS delegation arrives, submits to Covid-19 screening | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

In the midst of re-opening, there are now new lockdowns around the world

The Thaiger

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In the midst of re-opening, there are now new lockdowns around the world | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Checkpoints popping up around Melbourne's metropolitan perimeter - CNN.com

Countries that appeared, only a few weeks ago, to have their local Covid-19 outbreaks under control – Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore for example – are now seeing new waves of the virus drawing immediate attention from officials, locking down the affected areas. They know, for now, it’s the only solution to counter new outbreaks.

These mini-outbreaks in formerly ‘low-risk’ areas draws attention to the difficulties of containing Covid-19, even when countries have been ruthless with border closures, ‘lockdowns’ and quarantine measures.

In Melbourne, Australia’s southern city, it’s been a backward step as the country closed the state border between the states of Victoria and New South Wales, just to the north on the other side of the Murray River. It’s the first time the border has been closed in 101 years, since a similar measure was introduced during the Australian outbreak of the deadly Spanish Flu.

In Hong Kong, officials say they are now containing a third wave of Covid-19 cases following weeks of zero local viral infections.

In Singapore the numbers of cases were exactly 1,000 on April 1. Singapore officials were patting themselves on the back and praised for their quick reactions to suppress the spread of the virus in the tiny island state. Then cases started appearing in the accommodation areas where the large migrant worker population live. Today there are now 45,298 cases amongst a population of 5.6 million with at least 100+ new cases still being reported every day. 41,000+ have now recovered and there has only been 26 recorded deaths in Singapore.

Admittedly these case studies pale into insignificance when compared to the US, India, Brazil, South Africa or other countries in South America or the Middle East who are registering 1,000s of daily new cases at the moment. But it raises questions about how parts of the world, hard hit earlier, and now trying to recover their economies, will ever expect to return to anything resembling ‘normal’. Even if they do, the constant fears of another ‘wave’ of the coronavirus, or the prospect of re-opening their borders, is an ongoing challenge.

As well as Australia, Singapore and Hong Kong, South Korea, China, New Zealand, and Israel (1,335 new cases in the past 24 hours), have all reported new Covid-19 outbreaks after initially appearing to contain Covid-19. Thailand has now reached 45 days without a single locally transmitted case but is still reporting fresh cases every day of repatriated Thais flying back to Thailand with the infection.

But, with the the latest knowledge, authorities are able to quickly ‘jump’ on the affected areas and better contain the spread. Most countries now have more developed contact-tracing too, all helping to minimise the spread of 2nd or 3rd waves.

Melbourne had just about fully re-opened when the new cases started showing up in the middle of June and is now reporting 120+ new cases each day, following almost 2 months of single digit daily infection rates for the entire country.

Now city residents are again confined to their homes, unless it’s for food shopping, caregiving, exercise or work. Cafes and restaurants, allowed to reopen just weeks ago, are again closed, going back to their delivery and take-out services again. All entertainment venues are also closed. Victoria (where Melbourne is the capital) is now being isolated from its state neighbours of New South Wales and South Australia.

“The South Australian Government has announced all residents returning from Victoria will be required to take a coronavirus test within 24 hours of their arrival, and wear face masks when coming into contact with others.” The South Australian Premier Steven Marshall says that all travellers from Victoria are required to self-isolate for 14 days, and submit for a coronavirus test.

The closure of the border with New South Wales is the first time such a measure has been taken since the Spanish Flu pandemic, 100 years ago. There are border towns scattered along either sides of the river border that are now effectively cut off from each other. Any Victorians needing to cross the borders have to register with the government and checkpoints have been set up.

The Australian experience with a second wave mirrors the response in China where swift, draconian measures are applied to contain the virus. Without a vaccine, it’s a blunt but effective tool to control local outbreaks of the disease.

Hong Kong is currently debating a return to lockdowns and restrictions. After weeks of relaxation and two months of few new cases, there is now around 20+ new cases each day over the past week. Hong Kong is a particularly concerning location due to close living and cramped streets. SARS, the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, another coronavirus related to Covid-19, reached Hong Kong in March 2003. Over 3 months, a total of 1,750 cases were identified. During this time 286 people died of the disease. SARS proved to be even more fatal than Covid-19.

Now the Hong Kong government is again urging residents to be vigilant about wearing face masks, exercising social distancing, and public hygiene.

Daniel Andrews, the Victorian premier, says “I think a sense of complacency has crept into us as we let our frustrations get the better of us. I think that everyone knows someone who has not been following the rules as well as they should have. I think each of us know that we have got no choice by to take very, very difficult steps.”

His words ring true for every location in the world where a new wave or isolated outbreaks re-occur.

But in some parts of the world the first wave is still in full flight – countries like the US, Brazil, India, South Africa and other South American nations are currently seeing an acceleration of new Covid-19 infections.

For a developed nation with a world-class health system, the problem in the US is of particular concern, where the pandemic has become highly politicised. Even the wearing of masks, now seen as part of a community’s weaponry against infection, is being flagrantly ignored by sections of the US community who see their refusal to wear a mask as a sign of solidarity with the US President. Even the advice from the country’s Centres of Disease Control is now being openly challenged by some politicians.

Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore and other parts of Asia, that tackled the virus earlier and ‘flattened the curve’ before others, are showing the difficulty of avoiding new infections, even in the best of circumstances. Where communities are mostly following health authorities’ guidelines, wear masks, are vigilant about social distancing and are educated about the situation… new outbreaks can still occur.

The ‘new normal’ for the world isn’t ‘normal’, but it is ‘new’. It’s been a century since the world suffered the loss of some 50 million people from the ravages of The Spanish Flu (some 500 million were infected with the H1N1 virus according to CDC and Wikipedia). Now, in a new century, with all the technology and accumulated knowledge, we are still finding it difficult to manage a tiny virus.

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