Prepare for delays in re-opening international borders

FILE PHOTO: Bangkok Post

“The third or fourth quarter of 2020.” That’s as precise as deputy PM Somkid Jatusripitak could say when Thailand would re-open its borders for foreign tourists.

“…priority will be given to those arriving from coronavirus-free areas.”

Mr. Somkid says that relaxing inbound travel restrictions is the first step to kickstart Thailand’s tourism industry.

“The government has to be prudent in screening travellers and implementing an efficient tracking system to reduce the risk of a second wave of infections.”

“Visitors from countries or areas where Covid-19 outbreaks have been contained are likely to be the first to get the green light.”

His vague range of dates, of Q3 and Q4, blow out the pent-up expectations that Thailand would be re-opening international borders to everyone on July 1. That is clearly not the intention of Thailand’s CCSA leadership team who will carefully curate the flow of international traffic at its borders in coming months.

“It doesn’t have to be an entire country. We can allow visitors from towns or provinces which are free from the coronavirus. Travel restrictions will be gradually eased,” he was quoted as saying in Bangkok Post.

The terms the government are using are ‘travel bubbles’ and ‘green lanes’ that would share reciprocal safe entry for travellers from both countries, without the need for 14 day quarantines.

Meanwhile the Thai government is expected to roll out a new local tourism stimulus scheme aimed at domestic tourism from July. The ‘travel bank’ would provide 3,000 baht of credit that could be spent on products and service that register for the scheme.

“We hope the package will keep the momentum all the way to early next year.”

In more possible delays Deputy PM Wissanu Krea-ngam has foreshadowed that the emergency decree, set to expire on June 30, could be extended. Under the Thai Constitution an ’emergency decree’ may only be in force for 90 days. Pushing the decree past June 30 would be in excess of 90 days so any extension would have to be discussed in the Thai parliament.

“Extending the emergency decree is one of the options the government is considering to curb the risks of a second wave. The emergency decree enables swift action and coordination, unlike the Communicable Diseases Control Act.”

He claimed that the decree enables Thais repatriating through Suvarnabhumi Airport in Samut Prakan to the state quarantine facility in Sattahip district without delay.

“I can’t imagine such operations proceeding under the Communicable Diseases Control Act.”

Over the past 2 weeks all new reported cases of Covid-19 in Thailand have come from people returning to the country from overseas, mostly from Middle East countries. The discovery of so many imported cases is certain to fuel the government’s apprehension at re-opening borders to international travel.

In other news, Thai Airways pushed out its plans to relaunch international travel to at least the start of August, from July.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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