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Thailand to ease travel restrictions for some countries

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PHOTO: AFP

The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration has confirmed the government intends to ease travel restrictions for arrivals from some countries, but the 14 day quarantine remains in place for now. Spokesman Taweesilp Visanuyothin says the easing of restrictions will be applied to 56 countries, including Australia, the US and France, whose nationals will not require visas to enter Thailand. However, they will need a certificate that confirms they are Covid-free 72 hours before travel, along with a confirmed reservation at a quarantine hotel.

The easing up of the paperwork side of the restrictions will go part of the way to help attract a few more visitors but the 14 day quarantine, including the expense, remains a barrier for any larger numbers of tourists at this stage.

While in 14 day quarantine, they will be subject to 3 Covid-19 tests, as the government conducts an assessment to determine if quarantine could be reduced to 10 days in future. Prior to this, arrivals in quarantine would be tested twice, once around 3-5 days after arrival, and the second time 1-3 days before leaving. They will now be tested 3 times, a policy that is set to continue until the end of the year. Officials then plan to analyse the results to decide if quarantine can be reduced to 10 days. The analysis will begin on January 1, with health officials expected to have a conclusion by January 15.

The current mandatory 14 day quarantine is having a severe effect on an already-crippled tourism industry and officials are hoping that a reduction might encourage more visitors. However, Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul has said any reduction would only apply to people arriving from countries considered safe from Covid-19.

Ministers and the Tourism Authority of Thailand have already foreshadowed keeping Thailand’s borders closed to general travel until at least April next year. For once the usually over-optimistic TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn. has made a completely honest assessment of the current situation.

“There are unpredictable factors that come into play when trying to determine how 2021 will pan out, like the availability of a Covid-19 vaccine, the number of coronavirus infections and travel restrictions. The tourism sector might not have what’s considered a normal revenue, at least 80% of the pre-pandemic level, until 2022.”

Meanwhile, Taweesilp says the CCSA supports end-of-year festivities going ahead, but organisers and those in attendance must adhere to disease control measures. This echoes a statement from PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, who has proposed splitting large celebrations into smaller zones, where numbers are limited. He warns that events that are not following Covid-19 safety measures can be cancelled.

“Strict measures must be in place while people enjoy themselves during the New Year celebrations. I don’t want people to suffer from Covid-19 after New Year. Everyone must cooperate for the sake of the country’s safety.”

As usual The Thaiger urges people wanting to travel to Thailand at this stage to contact their embassy before they book flights or accommodation. Whilst we receive daily complaints about embassies not responding, all we can do is recommend you PERSIST.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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