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Thailand’s Health Ministry wants to reduce tourist quarantine to 10 days

Maya Taylor

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Thailand’s Health Ministry is seeking to reduce the mandatory quarantine period for foreign tourists, currently mandated at 14 days, to 10 days. The reduction would be assessed after one month and, if successful, quarantine could be further reduced to 7 days. However, this reduction would only apply to those arriving from countries considered “safe” from Covid-19. Those arriving from high-risk countries would still be subject to 14 days’ quarantine.

It’s understood the ministry plans to submit its proposal to the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration within the next 2 weeks, and has asked the Disease Control Department to compare differing quarantine periods of 7, 10, and 12 days, to determine their effectiveness.

According to a Bangkok Post report, Somsak Akksilp, from the Department of Medical Services, says Thailand currently has around 2,000 beds for Covid-19 patients, adding that Bangkok can treat up between 230 and 400 patients a day, while the rest of the country has the capacity to treat 1,000 to 1,700 patients a day. He’s also confident there are sufficient supplies of both medication and equipment to treat Covid patients. Thailand is also producing the anti-viral medication, Favipiravir, which has been shown to alleviate Covid symptoms in some patients.

Meanwhile, Health Ministry permanent secretary, Kiattiphum Wongrajit, says the success of a reduced quarantine period will be down to how well the public continues to comply with health measures. He says he’s confident any second wave would be manageable if the public continues to co-operate with measures such as mandatory mask-wearing in public spaces, frequent hand washing, and social distancing.

Unlike some countries, Thailand has seen large-scale acceptance and adoption of such measures. The country is now desperate to repair its shattered economy, by kick-starting its dormant tourism industry. Although the government has approved a Special Tourist Visa to allow long-term tourists to return, many say the limit on numbers means the scheme will not have enough of an impact. It has also been criticised for the lengthy and expensive quarantine involved, which opponents claim will prove off-putting for tourists, who may opt to vacation elsewhere.

It remains to be seen how the Health Ministry’s push for reduced quarantine will go down with Thai citizens. A recent poll shows most are in favour of keeping the borders shut for now. At least one prominent medic has also warned against a reduction in quarantine.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand | Bangkok Post

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31 Comments

31 Comments

  1. Avatar

    EdwardV

    October 8, 2020 at 10:14 am

    It’s a nice start but for most tourist it’s still to long. The average tourist only spends 2-4 weeks on vacation. Therefore any level is quarantine is probably too much and will just go somewhere else. If Thailand can’t see their way to lower it to no more than 2-5 days, they will never draw the numbers they desire. I’m not saying they should lower the number, just there is a limit to what most tourists will accept. Keeping in mind most tourists think of a quarantine as money wasted and vacation days lost.

    • Avatar

      Issan John

      October 8, 2020 at 2:45 pm

      “Therefore any level is quarantine is probably too much and will just go somewhere else”

      Your point’s very fair (unusual here), but where else will tourists go?

      Where?

      Take a look around and there simply is nowhere else comparable that has less restrictions, less than 14 days quarantine, etc.

      Vietnam, Cambodia, Japan, Taiwan, etc … all either require 14 days quarantine plus hefty deposits and insurance cover, or they don’t let tourists in at all.

      There are plenty of people here saying they’ll go elsewhere, but nobody’s suggested where!

      • Avatar

        EdwardV

        October 8, 2020 at 3:49 pm

        Actually there are a lot of places, just none of them in SE Asia. For example: mexico is open, in fact never closed. Much of the Caribbean is open, places like arugula, Aruba , Bermuda, Jamaica Puerto Rico, St Barts and St Martin to just name a few. The Maldives is open. Colombia, Panama and Costa Rica along with a few other central and South American countries are open. French Polynesia is open (Tahiti and Bora Bora). Hawaii will open on the 15th , in fact the USA is open to most of the world the main exceptions being China and the EU. All places that don’t require a quarantine and are comparable. Of course there are other countries too, places in Africa , the Middle East like Dubai and Egypt, and Europe like Croatia and Serbia are also open.

      • Avatar

        Mike

        October 13, 2020 at 9:00 am

        I think most people will be happy to wait it out. In Hong Kong where hotels are also mostly empty (but where the economy doesn’t rely on tourism) flush Hong Kongers are taking staycations in 5 star hotels.

  2. Avatar

    Nipral

    October 8, 2020 at 11:05 am

    Even 1 hour is not acceptable for normal, physically and mentally sane tourists.
    Forget about Thailand !
    We have a wealth of alternatives to choose from, and our plans are made.
    Sad for the starving people there.

    • Avatar

      Issan John

      October 8, 2020 at 2:19 pm

      “We have a wealth of alternatives to choose from, and our plans are made.”

      Really?

      Where, exactly, are the “wealth of alternatives”?

      WHERE?

      • Avatar

        Covidiot

        October 8, 2020 at 3:52 pm

        How about – Miami or Hawaii or Las Vegas or Dominican Republic or Acapulco or Cancun or Tulum?

  3. Avatar

    Fabian

    October 8, 2020 at 11:21 am

    I did the 14 days quarantine (which is actually 16 days if you count the arrival and departure date) and I can tell you it’s a nightmare. I never want to do that again.

    Reducing quarantine to 10 days is a start, but I think they should completely change the quarantine concept.

    Let for one specific quarantine hotel all the guests arrive on the same day. Not on different days like they do now. Then you will be able to give people more freedom.

    Then you seal off the area around the hotel but people can go everywhere inside the hotel, like in the swimming pool. People can meet and talk with each other.

    If you allow that in the current setup you can have this: I have two more days left in quarantine and someone else arrived yesterday but starts to develop and spread Covid today. I get Covid from this person and in two days I leave and spread it outside.

    You don’t have this issue when all the guests check in and out at the same time. It’s a bit more logistics but not that hard.

    Then allow people to order things from the supermarket. It’s a small convenient add-on that makes life in quarantine a bit more pleasant. But it wasn’t possible for me in quarantine.

    You can arrange scheduled trips to the beach or some other cultural thing,

    It all makes the quarantine feel more free and more like holiday. Then people might actually say: hey, let’s go to Thailand!

    • Avatar

      R

      October 8, 2020 at 11:47 am

      “I have two more days left in quarantine and someone else arrived yesterday but starts to develop and spread Covid today.” – How did you get COVID if you follow the current policy by staying inside your room?

      Your idea is nice. However, until the Thai health department can come up with a solid procedure on how to handle tourists, Thai citizens should not be put at risk just to please tourists.

      • Avatar

        Mike Frenchie

        October 8, 2020 at 1:22 pm

        Tell that to the 20% of the people living directly or indirectly from tourism… you plan to feed them?

        • Avatar

          Issan John

          October 8, 2020 at 2:37 pm

          20% of Thais are NOT “living directly or indirectly from tourism”.

          This is a complete fallacy and totally untrue.

          10 to 20% of Thai GDP is estimated to come from tourism and related industries, indirectly – that’s a totally different thing to 20% of Thais depending on it.

          This is simply totally untrue.

          • Avatar

            Mike

            October 13, 2020 at 9:05 am

            Yes, Issan Joh is right here. You have to take into account the massive wealth gap in Thailand which is one of the biggest in the World.

    • Avatar

      Issan John

      October 8, 2020 at 2:29 pm

      “Then you will be able to give people more freedom.

      Then you seal off the area around the hotel but people can go everywhere inside the hotel, like in the swimming pool. People can meet and talk with each other.”

      Nice idea, but you’re completely overlooking the crucial factor of the hotel staff.

      How do they remain “Covid free” when they go home and go out every day?

      Or are they also quarantined for the same 14 day period, and if so where?

      Sorry, but it’s simply impossible.

      • Avatar

        Fabian

        October 8, 2020 at 4:10 pm

        There are two options. One is they don’t go home every day but stay also in the hotel. It’s not very nice maybe, but at least it pays.

        The other option is that staff wears proper protection against Covid and is allowed to go home.

        Look, there are already many holes in the system. When I arrived in Bangkok there was A LOT of staff. More than people arriving. This greatly increases the chances of one getting infected by someone arriving. And I was actually most shocked that the medical staff behind the counter (who had to some medical reporting) was in contact will all the visitors but wearing just a standard medical mask. No plexiglass or special suits.

        Then at the quarantine hotel we were from day 7 actually allowed to visit the rooftop for 40 minutes a day, encountering staff and other people.

        Apparently the system works good enough but again it’s not bullet proof.

        • Avatar

          Issan John

          October 9, 2020 at 11:16 am

          “There are two options. One is they don’t go home every day but stay also in the hotel. It’s not very nice maybe, but at least it pays.

          The other option is that staff wears proper protection against Covid and is allowed to go home.”

          The sad and rather frightening thing is that you clearly think so little of Thais that, despite having had the obvious massive flaw pointed out, you’re serious.

          With your first option they’d be continually exposed to the risk of Covid-19 from those quarantined, then forced to “also stay in the hotel” in crowded, dangerous conditions indefinitely, 24 hours a day, for months on end until a vaccine is found or better tests developed.

          … and your view is that that’s “not very nice maybe, but at least it pays”.

          With your second, they’d have to wear the same level of PPE as hospital staff in a quarantine ward, while doing a job for hours which would be so physically demanding it would lead to collapse.

          All just so you can have a relaxing stay in a hotel, enjoying yourself, for a fortnight.

          Shameless, even disgusting, doesn’t begin to describe an attitude like yours.

  4. Avatar

    Fabian

    October 8, 2020 at 12:40 pm

    “How did you get COVID if you follow the current policy by staying inside your room? ”

    You don’t get what I mean. By setup I mean people arriving at different moments. If everyone arrives the same days then you don’t get the situation where one leaves with Covid he got from the person who arrived just a day ago.

    “Thai citizens should not be put at risk just to please tourists.”

    That is YOUR opinion. First, it’s not just to pleasure tourist but to allow the Thai people to make money and survive. Second, in MY opinion the cure is currently worse than the disease. And out of proportion when you compare it to the number of road kills.

    There is no bullet proof solution against Covid, just risk assessment. If the Thai people decide to do everything to keep Covid out it’s their decisions of course. The question is how long are they going to survive like that? Any system to allow people back into the country brings some risk to spread Covid again.

    • Avatar

      Mike Frenchie

      October 8, 2020 at 1:26 pm

      The funny part is that the vaccine will never been 100% effective (it is a virus – like the flu or HIV that have never been controlled). What is Thailand going to do? Closing the country forever?

      • Avatar

        Issan John

        October 8, 2020 at 3:03 pm

        Very true, but surely the solution doesn’t depend on a vaccine:

        – how do you really know if visitors have been vaccinated?

        – can someone vaccinated still be a carrier? etc, etc

        Surely the solution to importing the virus depends on improved testing?

        If more accurate tests are developed, then that negates the need for quarantine – QED.

    • Avatar

      Issan John

      October 8, 2020 at 2:51 pm

      “If everyone arrives the same days then you don’t get the situation where one leaves with Covid he got from the person who arrived just a day ago”

      Arguably not, but if quarantined tourists are free to roam the hotel, how about the staff who they’re around who leave with Covid they got from them?

      How can you not see that?

    • Avatar

      Issan John

      October 8, 2020 at 2:56 pm

      ” “Thai citizens should not be put at risk just to please tourists.”

      That is YOUR opinion …”

      Unbelievable. No wonder you didn’t consider the Thai staff in your suggested solution to the quarantine issue.

      • Avatar

        Fabian

        October 8, 2020 at 5:50 pm

        If you read my comment at 4.10pm you see I do consider the Thai people Mr. I-know-Everything-Better-Than-Others.

  5. Avatar

    Tom

    October 8, 2020 at 3:06 pm

    Stop worrying about the quarantine period, and start focusing on the main problems preventing people from entering – The bureaucracy, the red tape and the costs just to get permission to enter.
    What is the amount of money actually spent in the community by the people who can afford to charter flights Vs those that come in on scheduled flights.
    How many people would be prepared to come in, at a funnelled rate (especially under the new STV) if they could just get their tests, insurance, book their ASQ and flight and then figure out the rest of their trip once free?

  6. Avatar

    Issan John

    October 8, 2020 at 3:13 pm

    Yesterday, fifteen arrivals tested positive for Covid-19.

    6 after 11 days (they had almost certainly caught it in-flight), and one after 13 days.

    That alone should show why a 14 day quarantine period is so necessary given the current quality of testing available, regardless of whether the country of departure was high or low risk – which completely ignores those playing the system and stopping over in a low risk country.

  7. Avatar

    Issan John

    October 8, 2020 at 3:33 pm

    “Health Ministry permanent secretary, Kiattiphum Wongrajit, says the success of a reduced quarantine period will be down to how well the public continues to comply with health measures. ….. if the public continues to co-operate with measures such as mandatory mask-wearing in public spaces, frequent hand washing, and social distancing.”

    Worrying, to put it mildly, if the permanent secretary at the Health Ministry is unaware that “mask wearing in public spaces” is NOT mandatory except in certain provinces and areas, as is social distancing even in government hospitals.

  8. Avatar

    Thomas

    October 8, 2020 at 4:59 pm

    We should, we need, we could, we think…. How about we do? Other countries manage the situation without all the drama and nobody dies.

    I spent already 10 months in the desert on a military base and I want to go home.
    Anyone of you pussy’s complaining about 14 days in a hotel need to come out of your golden cage. I swap immediately if the hardship of getting home is to hard.

  9. Avatar

    Hugh

    October 8, 2020 at 10:20 pm

    Just for people with family here really

  10. Avatar

    Belle

    October 9, 2020 at 9:08 am

    It was just on the news that several cases from Tuesday tested positive on their 11th day in quarantine… and now this?!

    Look up Bangkok Post: “They were quarantined in Samut Prakan province and their infection was confirmed by their second test on Sunday, 11 days after their arrival.”

  11. Avatar

    Issan John

    October 9, 2020 at 10:15 am

    Hardly “comparable” in terms of either cost, facilities, safety, or the numbers of tourists they can handle and the market they’re aimed at.

    While they’re undeniably “open” they’re simply in different leagues, either priced way beyond mass tourism or without any of the safety and security that SEA offers.

    Realistically, none are options for more than a tiny fraction of the 40 million tourists that came to Thailand last year or the tens of millions that went elsewhere in SEA.

  12. Avatar

    Issan John

    October 9, 2020 at 10:51 am

    “How about – Miami or Hawaii or Las Vegas or Dominican Republic or Acapulco or Cancun or Tulum?”

    How about them?

    What appeal do they have for the near 40 million tourists who visited Thailand last year and the tens of millions who went elsewhere in SEA?

    A tiny fraction may well go to those places instead, but for the vast majority they’re simply not an option even if they could handle the numbers which is an impossibility.

    All the realistic alternatives to Thailand have the same restrictions or more, for the same reasons.
    Suggesting that Thailand’s tourists will go elsewhere is simply an empty threat – there’s nowhere else for the vast majority to go.

  13. Avatar

    Issan John

    October 9, 2020 at 11:40 am

    “If you read my comment at 4.10pm you see I do consider the Thai people Mr. I-know-Everything-Better-Than-Others”

    I read your “comment at 4.10 pm” and, rather sadly, saw what “consider the Thai people” to be.

    You suggested that they should be either:

    1. Confined to living in squalid, cramped conditions in your hotel indefinitely, 24 hours a day for months until either a vaccine is found or better tests developed, while when working exposed to those who are quarantined without protection…

    or

    2. Be forced to do their jobs while wearing full PPE as for a hospital quarantine ward, which would push anyone doing so to physical collapse.

    … and you think that’s “not very nice maybe, but at least it pays”.

    All so you can enjoy your fortnight in a hotel.

    Thais aren’t slaves anymore, even though that’s all too clearly all you “consider the Thai people” to be.

    I don’t think I “know-everything-better-than-others”, but I know enough to recognise people like you as a selfish disgrace to humanity.

  14. Avatar

    Mike

    October 13, 2020 at 8:58 am

    It’s a brilliant idea. Reducing the number of days travellers need to quarantine from 14 to 10. Neat. That’s what we call “blue sky thinking”. Now, when people come to Thailand for their annual 14 day holiday they’ll have a full 4 days to go wherever they want. probably. Minus travelling time obviously.

    Then on their return all they will need to do is take another two weeks unpaid leave to quarantine when they get home.

    Tourists will definitely come now.

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Hong Kong

Up to 5,900 jobs to go as Hong Kong carrier Cathay Dragon shuts down

Maya Taylor

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PHOTO: Kwok Ho Eddie Wong / Flickr

Hong Kong airline Cathay Pacific is set to close its subsidiary, Cathay Dragon, with the loss of up to 5,900 jobs. The carrier, that used to be called Dragon Air before being absorbed by Cathay, has become yet another casualty of the Covid-19 pandemic that has decimated the aviation business.

The Bangkok Post reports that 5,300 jobs are expected to go in the airline’s Hong Kong base, with a further 600 axed overseas, accounting for 17% of Cathay’s total workforce. Cathay Dragon primarily operated short-haul routes within Asia, including direct flights from Hong Kong to Bangkok and Phuket.

Cathay Pacific bosses have hammered out a HK$2.2 billion restructuring plan that involves thousands of job cuts, pilots and cabin crew having to sign cheaper contracts, and total closure of its subsidiary carrier. The South China Morning Post describes the plan as, “life or death”, reporting cuts to a total of 8,500 jobs across the group. The parent airline is understood to be applying for approval to absorb Cathay Dragon’s routes into the Cathay Pacific network, as well as that of its low-cost carrier, HK Express.

Cathay Pacific CEO, Augustus Tang, says the restructuring plan is essential to Cathay’s future survival as the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic show no sign of abating.

“The global pandemic continues to have a devastating impact on aviation and the hard truth is we must fundamentally restructure the Group to survive. We have to do this to protect as many jobs as possible and meet our responsibilities to the Hong Kong aviation hub and our customers.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post| South China Morning Post

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Complete Thailand Travel Guide (October 2020)

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Latest update – October 21. If you are overseas and wish to come to Thailand your FIRST port of call must be the Royal Thai Embassy in your country before you make any bookings. Thailand Longstay is also a valuable resource of information at this time.

First ‘tourists’ arrive in Thailand under the Special Tourist Visa

In 2019, almost 40 million tourists arrived in Thailand. On October 20, 41 ‘tourists’ arrived, the first in 7 months. Thailand is slowly, slowly, re-opening its borders after the Covid-19 pandemic forced a total shutdown in March. The Kingdom welcomed its first tourists in 7 months, with the arrival of 41 Chinese tourists from Shanghai. The group landed at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport on a chartered flight laid on by Spring Airlines, a low-cost Chinese carrier.

The visitors are here on the recently-launched Special Tourist Visa and upon touchdown, had to download a special app to track their movements while in Thailand. Yuthasak Supasorn, governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, also confirmed they will carry out 14 days’ quarantine, before they are free to travel around. The STV grants them a stay of up to 90 days and can be extended twice.

A new visa amnesty now runs until the end of October

Foreigners who recently paid 1,900 baht for a 30 day visa extension (before September 26) are now clear to stay in Thailand until November 30 at no extra cost, but those foreigners need to report to immigration to get their visa stamp updated.

The CCSA announced another grace period for foreigners stranded in Thailand, until October 31. Under the new regulation, 60 day visa extensions will be issued to those who are unable to travel back to their home country. The reasons could be lack of flights, problems with Covid in their home country, medical reasons or something else that prevent you from leaving the country.

Those who received a 30 day extension will need to visit their local immigration office and get the correct stamp that will indicate the new expiration date in their passport, according to a story in The Phuket News. In the past, foreigners have needed to present a letter from their country’s embassy requesting an extension, but Immigration Bureau Deputy Commissioner Pornchai Kuntee says “letters from embassies may not be needed.”

Tell us about the new long stay ‘special tourist visa’, the STV.

Here are the strict basic requirements of the new STV which has been formally approved and Gazetted…

• Foreign visitors will be required to have a Covid-19 test taken 72 hours before, departure

• They will have to buy Covid-19 health insurance

• Sign a letter of consent agreeing to comply with the Thai government’s Covid-19 measures

• Will be for a minimum 90 days (there have been some reports of a minimum 30 days), renewable twice, to a total of 20 days

• The visa will be limited to people from ‘low-risk’ countries although that list has not been announced

• Successful applicants will have to complete a 14 day mandatory quarantine at a state-registered quarantine/hotel

• STV travellers must travel by charter plane and every flight carrying them must receive permission from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or CCSA

The new 90 day special tourist visa would be able to be extended twice, for 90 days each time. So, a total of 270 days (around 9 months). It was also announced that travellers would have to arrive on charter flights only, further pushing up the price of potential travel back to Thailand.

“Visitors can arrive for tourism or health services, and they can stay at alternative state quarantine facilities, specific areas or at hospitals that function as quarantine facilities. Our public health system is amongst the best in the world and people can have confidence in it.”

The new ‘STV’ (Special Tourist Visa) which will cost 2,000 baht and will last for 90 days each. The new visa regulation will be in effect until September 30, 2021 and may be extended beyond that time.

The government noted that it doesn’t have the ability to fully re-open to tourism at the moment as they have to be able to process incoming visitors and find approved locations for them to serve their 14 day quarantine.”The target is to welcome 100-300 visitors a week, or up to 1,200 people a month, and generate income of about 1 billion baht a month.”

Thai officials have also said they will only accept tourists from “low risk” countries, without specifying what those countries are.

On Friday, September 18, a director at the Department of Disease Control, said that foreign tourists will have to present proof of a negative Covid-19 test no more than 72 hours prior to travel.

The Thaiger will update the details of the new long stay tourist visa as soon as the become available.

Are there any Facebook pages where I can share my story about wanting to come back to Thailand?

The ‘Love Is Not Tourism Thailand’ Facebook page, which includes families torn apart by the pandemic, is calling on the Thai government to help reunite their families.

“We’re asking the government to issue visas or allow entry for family members and lovers to reunite with each other for humanitarian reasons. Evidence such as a passport with an entry stamp into Thailand, photos, and text messages should be able to verify their unions.”

How is Thailand doing compared to the rest of the world with it’s re-opening to tourists?

The UN World Tourism Organisation has published its latest update on the state of the world’s re-openings in the Covid-era. 53% of the world’s tourist destinations have now started easing travel restrictions government’s imposed in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The UNWTO reports acknowledges that many destinations “remain cautious” and some are even re-closing borders and tightening up restrictions again.

It’s the 7th edition of the “Covid-19 Related Travel Restrictions: A Global Review for Tourism”and identifies an ongoing global trend to gradually restart the world’s tourism machine. The report analyses restrictions by governments up to September 1. The research covers a total of 115 destinations (53% of all destinations worldwide) have now eased their travel restrictions – that’s an increase of 28 since 19 July. Of these, two have lifted all restrictions, while the remaining 113 continue to have certain restrictive measures in place.

• Another stand-out stat was that in advanced economies, 79% of tourism destinations had already started easing restrictions. In emerging economies, less than half, just 47% of destinations, have started the process.

• 64% of those destinations which have eased have a “high or medium dependence” on airlines to deliver international tourists to their location. Island destinations are particularly at risk at this time as the air lift is critical to their tourist success.

• 43% of all worldwide destinations continue to have their borders completely closed to all tourism, of which 27 destinations have had their borders “completely closed” for at least 7 months.

• Half of all destinations in the survey, with borders completely closed to tourism, are listed as being among the “World’s Most Vulnerable Countries”. They include 10 Small Island Developing States, one Least Developed Country and three Land-Locked Developing Countries.

Should I use a visa agent to extend my visa?

There are plenty of ads being posted at this time offering magic extensions to visas and opportunities to stay in Thailand after September 26. Please be aware that some of these alleged visa agents are scams. There are also plenty of good visa agents who will be able to provide you with advice and solutions, at a cost, allowing you to remain in the country.

If you do wish to contact a visa agent at this time make sure you get a referral from a friend, visit their office in person or ask plenty of questions and check their bonafides. Do not start sending money to accounts until you have seen some paperwork or evidence that they are able to provide you with a legal and professional service. Caveat emptor!

I had a retirement visa and have lived in Thailand for many years. When can I return?

Foreigners with permanent residences who have been stranded overseas for the past 6 months, and long-term foreign residents (retirement visa), can now re-enter Thailand, under a number of restrictions, including where you are travelling from.

Both groups, if approved, will still have to undergo the mandatory state-controlled 14 day quarantine period.

If you believe you fall into either of these categories, contact your local Thai Embassy or consulate to discuss your circumstances BEFORE you purchase a ticket or make any other arrangements.

Is it safe in Thailand at the moment?

Yes. No less safe than usual and certainly there has been no civil unrest that would make you ponder your personal safety beyond the usual precautions you would take anywhere in the world. The current student protests are fairly limited and are publicised ahead of time so you can avoid those situations. Whilst there has been some outbursts against foreigners from a Thai politician and a few stressed-out locals, the situation for foreigners remains safe and secure at this time.

What happened to the Phuket Model?

It was a non-starter after the government encountered resistance from some in Phuket. It was also not well received by travellers and many in the local hospitality industry.

At this stage, a model to allow limited tourists to re-enter the country, on extended tourist visas, with some restrictions, is being hammered out by the CCSA in conjunction with the Public Health Department, TAT and Ministry of Sports and Tourism. It’s called the Special Tourist Visa and is aimed at high-wealth tourists with plenty of time, as the visa has a minimum 90 day stay requirement.

I have been stranded in Thailand since April. Now I have run out of money and don’t know what to do.

This is a really difficult situation and you’d be well advised to contact your friends and family, and advise them of your predicament. Also, you MUST contact your country’s embassy or consulate to alert them of the situation. They will at least have information about repatriating you to your home country or perhaps other options that may be available.

Just hoping your situation is going to improve won’t work. Get as much information as you can about your options. And hopefully your family or friends can send you some funds to tide you over during this crazy time. Chock dee krub!

The airlines are selling tickets to fly to Thailand now. Should I buy one?

No. Don’t buy a ticket for a flight to Thailand until you have ALL the paperwork required, have discussed your trip with your local embassy and you have been approved for travel. Why the airlines keep selling tickets, for flights that will be cancelled, is a mystery.

There are currently no plans to open Thailand’s borders for international tourism beyond proposals for a limited opening for tourism into Phuket called the Phuket Model. It was proposed to start in October but no decisions have been made.

Which leads us to the next question….

Would a Thailand Elite Visa solve my problems?

Yes and no. The Elite Visa program is an excellent and convenient means of staying in Thailand with few problems, allowing you to avoid visits to Immigration and most of the paperwork. But it’s an expensive up-front costs and, for now, there is a 3-4 month waiting period to process new applications.

At this time, there is also a limit on the number of people, on various visas, they are allowing to re-enter Thailand each day. But if you have the cash, it’s definitely an option as people on the Thailand Elite Visa are currently allowed to re-enter the Kingdom.

Our flight has a transit stop in Thailand. Can we get off the plane and spend a day in Bangkok?

No. At this time all transits require passengers to remain on the plane. There may be some situations where they deplane passengers but you will be restricted to a section of the airport.

Can I get a job, get a new visa and stay in Thailand?

Maybe, possibly. Jobs for foreigners are thin on the ground at the moment. Outside of teaching English (there will always be jobs for English teachers in Thailand), most companies are cutting staff right now, rather than employing. You would need to secure a letter of offer from your new employer and visit you local immigration office to discuss the matter urgently, before September 26.

Can I fly back to my country and get a new Non B visa, and then return to Thailand?

In theory, yes. But it will take some good planning and a dose of luck for the plan to be successful. Theo did it… HERE’s the link to his story. You will certainly need to do a 14 day quarantine upon your return and the capricious nature of various embassy and immigration officials could make the many steps to get all the paperwork a nightmare.

What about other tropical holiday spots?

Island economies, dependent on tourism – from Bali in Indonesia, to Hawaii in the US – grapple with the pandemic, which has brought global travel to a virtual halt. World aviation has dropped by 97% (last month compared year-on-year). Re-opening to tourists has led to the resurgence of infection in some places like the Caribbean island of Aruba, and governments are fearful of striking the wrong balance between public health and economic reality. Even The Maldives, which confidently re-opened for tourism, has had a recent surge of new cases and forcing the government to rethink its plans.

Ibiza and the other popular Spanish party islands, are also devastated by the current Covid situation.

Can I travel to Thailand for medical Tourism?

Yes. Even though Thailand’s borders are still closed to most travel, including tourism, there are some select groups being allowed back into the Kingdom. Medical tourists are one of those groups but, for most countries, ONLY for urgent or emergency medical matters. Foreign medical tourists are now permitted to apply to come to Thailand for medical treatment with strict disease control measures being put in place.

BUT, and there’s always a ‘but’ at the moment, some countries will not permit its citizens to travel outside of their home countries, even for medical emergencies. In all cases, you would need to consult your local Royal Thai Embassy to find out if you are eligible, before you book a flight or sing a contract with a medical provider in Thailand.

Under the CCSA regulations, foreign medical and wellness tourists have to arrive by air to ensure effective disease control, not via land border checkpoints at this stage.

“Those seeking cosmetic surgery and infertility treatments will be allowed to enter the country. Those seeking Covid-19 treatment are barred.”

If you’d like to investigate coming to Thailand at this time, go to MyMediTravel to browse procedures and check out your options.

Spokesperson Dr. Taweesilp Visanuyothin says the visitors must have an appointment letter from a doctor in Thailand and entry certificates issued by Thai embassies across the globe. People wanting to visit Thailand for medical procedures at this time will need to contact the Thai Embassy in their country to organise the visa and paperwork. Thailand’s major hospitals will provide potential candidates with an appointment letter.

They will also need to produce proof that they tested negative for Covid-19 before their arrival. Once in Thailand they will be tested again and will required to stay at the medical facility for at least 14 days, during which they will be able to start their chosen treatments.

The CCSA says that medical procedures will only be allowed for foreigners at hospitals that have been registered to provide the treatments and have proven their ability to contain any potential outbreak. Potential patients will only be allowed to bring a total of 3 family members or caretakers during their visit to Thailand. Caretakers will have to go through the same screening procedures as the patient.

Embassies and participating hospitals will be able to provide more information about procedures, facilities, paperwork requirements and arrival options.

Again, MAKE SURE you consult the Royal Thai Embassy in your home country before proceeding with any medical tourism pans.

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Tourism

From 40 million visitors to 41: first STV tourists arrive

Maya Taylor

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From 40 million visitors to 41: first STV tourists arrive | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Nation Thailand

In 2019, almost 40 million tourists arrived in Thailand. Yesterday, it was 41. As the Thais say, cha cha… Thailand is slowly, slowly, re-opening its borders after the Covid-19 pandemic forced a total shutdown in March. Yesterday, the Kingdom welcomed its first tourists in 7 months, with the arrival of 41 Chinese tourists from Shanghai. The group landed at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport on a chartered flight laid on by Spring Airlines, a low-cost Chinese carrier.

The visitors are here on the recently-launched Special Tourist Visa and upon touchdown, had to download a special app to track their movements while in Thailand. Yuthasak Supasorn, governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, also confirmed they will carry out 14 days’ quarantine, before they are free to travel around. The STV grants them a stay of up to 90 days and can be extended twice.

“Most of them planned to visit the beach and they already reserved hotel rooms.”

For anyone wishing to apply for the STV, your first port of call will be your local Thai Embassy and this website. Good luck!

Meanwhile, the southern island of Phuket had been expecting to welcome around 120 Chinese tourists on October 8, but that visit never materialised, with various reasons given for the delay. Some officials pointed to the island’s legendary vegetarian festival, which is currently underway, saying they did not want to deter domestic tourists who might be afraid of an increased risk of the virus from ‘tourists’. Others said it was simply because officials on the island wouldn’t have the manpower to deal with both events. And others still pointed to the small matter of nobody having applied to come.

The STV scheme appears to be finally up and running however, even if Phuket appears to have been left out of the picture for now. Yuthasak confirms another 147 Chinese tourists are scheduled to land at Suvarnabhumi on October 26, adding (very optimistically) that they’re expected to spend around 800,000 baht each while here.

Thai Airways has also confirmed it will bring 120 visitors from Shanghai to Bangkok on October 28. This group will consist of various categories, including tourists, repatriating Thais, and others arriving on ‘medical’ visas (people can apply to come to Thailand for various medical procedures).

In 2019, the Chinese made up the vast majority of foreign arrivals in the Kingdom, at around 10.99 million, just over a quarter of the total number of international tourists. Yuthasak is hopeful the return of international visitors is the beginning of the tourism sector’s recovery. It’s almost certain there’s a very long and winding road ahead.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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