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Thailand talking “travel bubbles” with low-risk Covid-19 countries

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Thailand is considering the idea of forming “travel bubbles” with countries that have demonstrated similar success in suppressing the Covid-19 virus. The announcement comes as a number of nations, including South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam, China and New Zealand have expressed interest in forming a reciprocal travel pact with Thailand.

This would involve governments agreeing their citizens could travel back and forth between the countries within the “bubble”, without imposing conditions such as mandatory quarantine or self-isolation. The term “green lanes” has also been used.

An aide to Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha has confirmed that a video conference meeting is scheduled to take place on June 26, when the PM will discuss the matter with the leaders of several interested countries, mostly regional Asian nations that have been able to reduce their Covid-19 case numbers to manageable levels. The PM has previously said travel bubbles could provide a much-needed boost to tourism.

Tourism, such a vital part of the country’s GDP (up to 20% when you include all the downstream workers and contractors), has been completely obliterated after the country closed down its international airports and borders in late March, early April this year.

Thailand currently has a ban on international flights, with the only exceptions being to facilitate the repatriation of Thai nationals and allow foreign work permit holders to return. The ban is currently in place until June 30 and the PM has said it will be reviewed closer to that date. He says any lifting of the embargo will need to be done with great caution to prevent a resurgence of the Covid-19 virus.

 

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