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PM proposes limited regional travel at Asean summit

Jack Burton

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PHOTO: NNT

The Covid-19 crisis has severely restricted international air travel, but that didn’t stop a summit of Asean nations yesterday hosted by Vietnam and held by teleconference. PM Prayut Chan-o-cha called on fellow Asean members to begin discussion about reopening certain limited lines of interregional travel, to begin the recovery from the pandemic’s impact on the regional economy.

No specific time was mentioned around when such discussions would take place, but it was a significant first step to begin deeper discussions, as many Asean nations now have low to no active cases of Covid-19. There are some notable exceptions, such as Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous nation, which saw 1,240 new cases yesterday alone.

Prayut specifically mentioned businesspeople in regards to the travel permissions, as well as other limited groups. It’s expected that if such a proposition moves forward, any travel corridor would carry strict limits and restrictions and wouldn’t allow everyone to travel freely across the region.

Prayut said public health measures would still take top priority in any such travel channel and would need to be agreed upon between member countries.

Besides opening dialogue on travel Prayt also suggested further investment in digital infrastructure and closer economic integration across the region.

Thailand has been considering “travel bubbles” for several weeks, at the highest levels of government, but announced earlier this week detailed discussion would be postponed until August. Monday’s meeting with the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration and other relevant agencies will discuss allowing limited numbers of foreigners enter, but with strict medical precautions. These would be limited to businesspeople, diplomats, guests of the government and foreigners with dependent Thai families. Discussion on protocols for such entries are ongoing as of press time. It’s is expected that the majority, if not all, will be required to go through quarantine at their own expense.

Thailand has not had a single confirmed locally transmitted case of Covid-19 in 32 days, and this morning announced 0 confirmed total cases in the past 24 hours.

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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