Thailand to Resume Traveler Quarantine Exemption Program in February

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 21, 2022Updated: January 21, 2022

Thailand is set to resume its quarantine exemption scheme for fully vaccinated foreign visitors in February, its coronavirus taskforce said Thursday, as concerns about the highly transmissible Omicron variant subside.

The country’s “Test and Go” quarantine waiver program is now able to resume due to the low number of deaths and hospitalizations caused by the virus, task force spokesperson Taweesilp Visanuyothin said.

“In case there are more infections or the situation changes, there will be a re-assessment for inbound travelers and adjust toward the Sandbox scheme,” Visanuyothin told reporters, local media Bangkok Post reported.

Under the Test and Go scheme, foreign visitors who have been fully vaccinated against the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus–commonly known as the coronavirus–will be allowed to enter Thailand without going through quarantine.

They will be required to take a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test upon arrival and stay in a pre-booked hotel while awaiting the results. Travelers will then be required to undergo a second PCR test five days later and stay in a hotel room to await the results. All expenses are the responsibility of the travelers.

The government had previously suspended the quarantine waiver program until Jan. 4 to curb the spread of the Omicron variant within the country. The suspension was later extended indefinitely due to the country’s CCP virus alert level being raised to level four.

Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said Tuesday that the government has agreed to lower the alert level to three due to the declining number of infections, but nightclubs and bars will remain closed for the time being.

The government has also expanded its “Sandbox” program to a total of six provinces, including Krabi, Phang-na, Phuket, Surat Thani, Chon Buri, and Trat. The program allows travelers to enter a 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.

Thailand reported 8,129 new infections on Thursday, including 7,915 local transmissions. It confirmed its first Omicron-related death on Jan. 16, involving an 86-year-old woman with Alzheimer’s disease, but an official said that the death was expected given the country’s over 10,000 Omicron cases.

About 66 percent of the country’s estimated 72 million population have received two doses of the coronavirus vaccines, with about 14.9 percent of them having received booster shots.

The central bank said on Jan. 11 that Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy would take a 0.3 percent hit from Omicron, although it should be managed by the first half of the year.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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