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Starting in May, foreign arrivals to Thailand may only have to take ATK tests

Tara Abhasakun

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Photo via Phuket International Airport - HKT (December 2021)

Starting in May, foreign arrivals to Thailand may take antigen tests on arrival, instead of PCR tests. Thailand’s CCSA announced yesterday that it will hold off on adjusting the current entry restrictions for foreign travellers to Thailand until it can evaluate the effects of next week’s Songkran festival, as it continues monitoring the spread of Covid-19 in the country.

Thailand’s deputy public health minister said, if approved, tourists would be able to wait for the results, which should take no more than 15-30 minutes to process on-site, without the need to book hotels and wait overnight for the results of PCR tests.

After a meeting about easing the current restrictions, PM Prayut Chan-o-cha said the government will consider a further easing of travel restrictions next month to allow more tourists into the country, saying… “We will try our best to balance public health and the economy.”

The changes tentatively planned for next month included requiring fewer documents to register for a Thailand Pass, a shorter quarantine period for people who are unvaccinated (or test positive on their arrival test), and an adjustment of the current US$20,000 (672,000 baht) health insurance requirement.

Thailand’s government has slowly been easing restrictions since the end of February, to help travellers arrive from overseas with less paperwork. Replacing PCR tests with antigen tests is in line with a previously published 4-step plan to reduce restrictions and paperwork up to July 1 this year.

In previous CCSA plans, it was scheduled to remove the PCR test on arrival, and the associated 1 night SHA+ hotel pre-booking and payment, and replace with an airport ATK (rapid antigen test), on arrival from May 1. But now the CCSA say they will wait until they see any effects of Songkran on the numbers of Covid infections before they confirm their decision.

About 470,000 foreign tourists arrived in the first quarter of this year, surpassing the total number of 420,000 for the entire 2021, according to the CCSA. The Tourism and Sports ministry estimates that at least 7 million foreign tourists will visit Thailand this year, a wildly optimistic estimate given the current low numbers, when compared to pre-Covid travel days.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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    A Thai-American dual citizen, Tara has reported news and spoken on a number of human rights and cultural news issues in Thailand. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in history from The College of Wooster. She interned at Southeast Asia Globe, and has written for a number of outlets. Tara reports on a range of Thailand news issues.

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