Thailand Extends Suspension of Quarantine Waiver After Raising COVID-19 Alert Level to Second Highest

By Aldgra Fredly
Aldgra Fredly
Aldgra Fredly
Aldgra Fredly is a freelance writer based in Malaysia, covering Asia Pacific news for The Epoch Times.
January 7, 2022Updated: January 7, 2022

Thailand’s government has decided to extend the suspension of its “Test and Go” quarantine waiver program until further notice, after raising the coronavirus alert level to its second-highest amid an increase in the country’s infection cases.

The Health Ministry has raised Thailand’s COVID-19 level to four, indicating that more stringent measures would be imposed, including closing high-risk venues—such as restaurants and other venues—and restricting public gatherings.

The change in alert level was made following a surge in the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus cases, as Thailand reported 5,775 new cases on Jan. 6, double the number of 3,112 on Jan. 2. The country has also detected 2,062 Omicron cases to date.

Thailand has extended the suspension of its quarantine exemption scheme indefinitely to curb the spread of the CCP virus, the country’s task force spokesman Taweesin Visanuyothin said on Jan. 7.

Previously, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha announced that the quarantine exemption scheme will be suspended until at least Jan. 4, but it doesn’t apply to the country’s “Phuket Sandbox” program.

The sandbox program allows travelers to enter the province without quarantine and move freely within the island, but they must stay there for seven days before traveling to other parts of the country.

Prayut said that Thailand has received about 200,000 applications for the Test and Go and Sandbox schemes, 110,000 of which had arrived, while 90,000 more travelers are pending approval for their applications.

The task force stated that most of the 26,402 visitors who arrived in Thailand since Jan. 1 entered through the Test and Go program.

The sandbox program now covers three provinces: Krabi, Phangnga, and three islands in Surat Thani province—Koh Samui, Koh Tao, and Koh Phangan—in addition to the current Phuket province.

Visanuyothin said that those who have already registered for the Test and Go scheme would not be allowed entry to Thailand after Jan. 15. The government would also lift an entry ban on travelers returning from eight African countries from Jan. 11 onwards.

“We can still make changes if the situation improves, but for now we have to learn more about the Omicron,” he told reporters.

Thailand has also banned the sale of alcohol at restaurants in 69 provinces, while the remaining eight zones—including the capital Bangkok—will only be allowed to serve alcohol until 9 p.m. as a measure to curb the spread of the CCP virus.

“Social drinking is the cause of the virus spread. Measures to restrict this will help curb the spread,” Visanuyothin said.

Reuters contributed to this report.