As a new variant of COVID-19, Omicron continues to spread further amid fears of a rise in cases, Thailand announced on Tuesday that it would reintroduce mandatory quarantine for tourists and halt a “testing” plan. -and-go” for fully vaccinated travellers, suspending quarantine-free travel passes. According to AP News reports, Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana, who is a government spokesperson, announced the suspension of sandbox programs, which allowed fully vaccinated travelers to enter Thailand without quarantine.
He also said that around 200,000 people who have registered for the Thailand Pass under the “test-and-go” program but have not yet visited Thailand will be allowed to do so. However, they will be given a coronavirus test on arrival, followed by a second test seven days later at government expense. No further quarantine exemption requests under the Thailand Pass system will be considered after midnight on Dec. 22, according to CNN. The government says it is a temporary suspension rather than a permanent ban, but no date has been set for the restriction to be lifted.
Thailand will not accept new applications for the ‘test-and-go’ program
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha has announced that Thailand will not accept new applications for the “test-and-go” program. He went on to say that from now on they revert to the previous quarantine system when they entered. Thailand confirmed its first case of the Omicron variant last week when a returning resident tested negative on arrival but later tested positive, infecting family members.
Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries reduced entry limits for fully vaccinated travelers in November in a bid to revive tourism. 130,000 visitors came to Thailand in November, under a “test-and-go” policy. According to AP News, right now, with 2,476 new cases and 32 deaths recorded on Tuesday, the number of illnesses has been slowly declining but the Omicron variant has seen an increase in COVID cases in many countries, prompting Thailand to take tough action. Since the start of the pandemic, Thailand has recorded 2,196,529 cases and 21,346 deaths.
The government had set a tourism revenue target of 1.5 trillion baht for 2021
Foreign tourist visits were around 40 million in 2019 but fell to 6.7 million in 2020, with the majority of visitors arriving in the first quarter, according to AP News. The government had set a tourism revenue target of 1.5 trillion baht for 2021. In 2019, Thailand’s tourism industry brought in 3.4 trillion baht.
(AP News Contributors)