Wednesday, 1 December, 2021

Thailand announces quarantine-free travel

Thailand announces quarantine-free travel

BANGKOK: Travellers from 45 low-risk countries who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will be able to visit Thailand without quarantine requirements from Nov 1 if they enter the country by air and test negative for the coronavirus, report agencies.

The announcement was made on Thursday by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on his Facebook page.

“We need to move faster and do it now because by waiting for everything to be perfect first, we could be too late,” said Prayut. “Moreover, tourists may decide to travel to other countries instead.”

Initially, Thailand only planned to allow travellers from about 10 "low-risk" countries, including Singapore, China and the United States to enter by air without quarantine requirements if they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and test negative for the virus before and after their flight.

The list, which consists of 45 countries and Hong Kong, was issued by Thani Thongphakdi, permanent secretary at the foreign ministry.

According to the foreign ministry, travellers must have resided in the eligible countries and territories for at least 21 consecutive days and will need to take a reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test within 72 hours of travelling to Thailand.

Upon their arrival in Thailand, they also need to take an RT-PCR test and wait for the result at an approved hotel for one night or until they receive a negative test result. Medical insurance with a minimum coverage of US$50,000 is also compulsory.

According to the prime minister, the plan was changed after several countries announced they would also begin to reopen borders and relax different measures to welcome back international travellers.

“We need to speed up our preparation. I have asked the Ministry of Public Health to accelerate the vaccination even more,” Prayut said. The prime minister admitted the decision came with a risk of increased infections but said “it is a risk we have to accept”.

“I think Thailand and other countries in the world are able to better handle COVID-19 risks and we need to learn to co-exist with COVID-19,” he added.

According to Prayut’s previous announcement earlier this month, quarantine requirements will still be applied to those travelling from countries not included in the list and alcohol consumption at eateries will remain prohibited in high-risk areas such as Bangkok.

The government will consider lifting the alcohol ban by Dec 1 and entertainment venues may also be allowed to resume operations to boost the tourism sector, he said.