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All countries welcome – Thailand open for business

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Come one, come all. In response to the dismally low take-up of the Special Tourist Visa, the Thai government has U-turned on a stipulation that only those from “low-risk” countries can apply. The visa is now available to all, regardless of the Covid-19 situation in their country. However, all arrivals are still subject to mandatory 14 day quarantine – which many agree is the real reason behind the low take-up. Since March, and since the tentative re-opening of Thailand’s borders to world travellers, there has been fewer than 2,000 take up any of the new visas with the mandatory 14 day quarantine and red-tape attached.

Deputy government spokeswoman Rachada Dhnadirek says the easing of eligibility requirements is to boost the Kingdom’s decimated tourism industry. The Bangkok Post reports that since the STV was launched, only 825 visitors from 29 countries have applied, with just 6 foreign-registered yachts availing of the visa. The period yachts with STV holders on board can remain in Thailand is also being extended to 60 days.

The slight easing of conditions attached to the STV comes as PM Prayut Chan-o-cha dismisses suggestions that Thailand is about to experience a second wave of the virus. Concerns have been mounting among the general public in parts of northern Thailand and in Bangkok, since it was revealed a number of Thais had illegally re-entered the country from Myanmar, bypassing quarantine and health checks, only to subsequently test positive for the virus.

Thailand now has 39 cases of Covid-19 that can be traced back to a hotel and entertainment complex in the Burmese border town of Tachileik. It’s understood the venue was operating as a centre for prostitution and employed at least 180 Thai nationals. When Covid-19 cases in the town began to rise, many workers fled, crossing back into Thailand illegally.

Meanwhile, the Disease Control Department confirms that 4 healthcare workers at private hospitals and alternative state quarantine facilities in Bangkok have also tested positive for the virus. The revelation has prompted concern and speculation as to how they might have contracted the virus, and if there were any lapses in quarantine protocols. It’s understood that workers at quarantine facilities are normally tested for the virus every 3 days.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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