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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Relaxation on some social distancing measures for travel

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  • The Thailand Civil Aviation Authority has further relaxed the restrictions on domestic airline services by removing the need for on-board social distancing (so that middle seat is now likely to be sold)
  • CCAT Director Chula Sookmanop says that domestic airlines can sell all their seats on each flight
  • Airlines no longer need to leave some of the seats vacant for social distancing
  • However, airlines must develop their in-flight air ventilation systems
  • PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, as CCSA Director, says he is concerned about possible implications of re-introducing general tourism too quickly and stressed the importance of public health over tourism
  • Meanwhile, Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob says that, as of July 1, families travelling together on electric trains in Bangkok will be allowed to sit down together

As the number of scheduled domestic flights continues to rise, the airlines are being reminded that they must not relax the controls and restrictions put in place to restrict transmission of Covid-19. Domestic airlines must also warn passengers that they may face legal action if they do not wear face masks throughout the flight and they’ve been told they must upgrade their in-flight air ventilation systems. They must also replace high-efficiency particulate air filters on a regular basis. These would be expensive updates in conjunction with the aircraft manufacturers.

Meanwhile, Thai aviation authorities have held talks with airlines on the resumption of international flights. Since the start of May, Thailand has already allowed domestic flights to resume.

Currently there are about 17,000 passengers a day at Thailand ‘s two major airports, Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang, a tiny fraction of the passenger traffic through the two largest airports in Thailand before the arrival of Covid-19 restrictions. All of Thailand’s airports have now been reopened. Phuket International Airport was the last airport to resume regular domestic flights on June 13.

Whilst the domestic flight situation starts ramping again, the discussion on how to relaunch international travel continues to plague (pun unintended) lawmakers and health officials.

It’s all about the travel bubbles.

Whilst the CAAT are warning that travel bubbles for general tourism are probably many months away, it’s likely that the first people to benefit will be workers with existing work permits and people attending international meetings for the purposes of conducting business in Thailand.

Gen. Somsak Roongsita, Secretary-General of the National Security Council says the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration had not yet made any decisions about Travel Bubbles, which countries would be involved or when they would begin.

 

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