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Thai government “in discussions” over stranded foreigners

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Thailand’s government will hold “discussions about what to do” regarding about an estimated 500,000 tourists stranded in the country by the Covid-19 coronavirus situation, and who may be facing overstaying if a reasonable solution cannot be found quickly.

With many countries sealing their borders, or preparing to, options for tourists to go home or make a visa run, even retirement or education visas, are growing fewer by the day. Even those allowed back into the Kingdom would face 14 days of self-quarantine unless they can provide a health certificate proving them virus-free, and proof of health insurance coveriing Covid-19 treatment in Thailand. Thai Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn confirmed the discussions today.

The discussions are taking place between the Tourism Ministry, The Interior Ministry and the Immigration Bureau. A timetable for the discussions was not provided, but it is clear that the situation has a limited timeframe before people, and the immigration system, become heavily affected.

In Phuket, Immigration officials have announced a ‘clemency’ for tourists who are at risk of overstaying their visas but will need a letter from their Embassy and have told they will have to wear a face mask when coming to the Immigration office.

In Pattaya, officials told The Pattaya News that they must follow current rules as no new rules or exceptions have been introduced as yet. But they anticipate new instructions shortly and are issuing what extensions they can. Immigration officials are also encouraging foreigners to be open and work with them during the difficult situation, adding that they “understand this is a stressful time for all.”

The Thai Tourism Minister says that during the current situation, many of the tourists here can stay and help the local economy while essentially trapped. Many, especially from Europe, Russia, Germany and the US, have said they prefer to ride out the situation here, where there is so far little panic buying or similar behaviours, and no actual lockdowns, and the weather is more pleasant.

The issue is a “highly sensitive one” say immigration authorities who have made it clear that there are security concerns.

SOURCE: The Pattaya News

 

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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.

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