Thailand Stops Quarantine-Free Entry

Thailand Stops Quarantine-Free Entry

Thailand Stops Quarantine-Free Entry

Thailand is stopping its “Test and Go” waiver program and reinstating its mandatory COVID-19 quarantine for foreign visitors and scrapping a quarantine waiver from today due to concerns over the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

The decision means visitors will have to go into hotel quarantine for between 7 to 10 days.

Additionally, the “sandbox” programme will also be suspended. The Sandbox program allows visitors to Thailand to move freely outside of their accommodation but requires them to remain in a specific location. That program will also be suspended in all places except for the tourist resort island of Phuket.

“After Dec. 21, there will be no new registrations for ‘Test and Go’, only quarantine or Phuket sandbox,” said deputy government spokeswoman Rachada Dhanadirek.

This announcement of Thailand Stops Quarantine-Free Entry comes a day after Thailand reported their first case of local transmission of the Omicron variant.

Thailand only recently reopened to foreign visitors in November, ending almost 18 months of strict entry policies that saw its tourism economy collapse. Tourism accounted for some 20% of the economy before the pandemic. The decision is a blow to efforts to revive Thailand’s battered tourism sector ahead of the peak holiday season.

Those already registered for the quarantine waiver and sandbox programme will still be able to benefit from it, said government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana.

“This is not to shut off tourists but to temporarily suspend arrivals,” he said and added that the decision will be reviewed on Jan. 4, he added.

The quarantine-free entry program has been stopped after less than two months since its launch. The programme was opened to more than 60 jurisdictions last month provided travellers were fully vaccinated and had negative tests for the virus before and immediately after arrival in Thailand.

The government also asked Thais to delay or cancel any unnecessary overseas trips, especially to Europe, the U.S., Africa and the Middle East.

Thailand Stops Quarantine-Free Entry
Thailand Stops Quarantine-Free Entry and Reinstates Mandatory COVID-19 Quarantine

Other Asian Countries

Thailand and other countries in Southeast Asia eased entry restrictions for fully vaccinated travellers in November to kickstart tourism which collapsed with the start of the pandemic. But with the exception of Thailand, few have attracted the return of many foreign visitors due to complex entry requirements.

Bali has had only a few dozen foreign tourists since it reopened. Usually, in 2019 it attracted 6.2 million visitors. Cambodia and Vietnam have also struggled.

Japan, where the vast majority of the population is vaccinated, now bans entry to most foreign nationals.

Mainland China and Hong Kong have continued to ban tourists from entry. Visitors face tight entry restrictions and mandatory 14- to 21-day quarantines depending on which part of the country they arrive in.

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