Thailand is cautiously heading to a phased reopening that is likely to kick-off this April but the doors may not fully open to welcome tourists until January 2022.
Awaiting cabinet scrutiny, the latest Ministry of Tourism and Sports’ staged recovery plan identifies four distinct opening phases starting with the “Wellness Leisure area Q and Hotel Q” due to start 1 April and continue to the end of May.
Wellness Leisure April to May
The five provinces that are eligible for relaxed quarantine rules are Phuket, Krabi, Surat Thani ( Samui, Tao and Phangan islands) Chonburi (Pattaya) and Chiang Mai.
Under its terms, visitors from the UAE, Israel, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and possibly India and Russia line up for less daunting quarantine rules.
Groups of one to four tourists get to stay confined in their room from day one to day three, followed by restricted access to specified hotel facilities from day four to 14. Hotels must be certified, and the plan recommends that ” health workers and risk groups should be vaccinated in the five provinces declared suitable for phase one of the reopening.
Phase 1 – April and May: Tourists will be able to use fitness facilities, swim and go on cycle rides in the grounds (subject to protocols). They can eat food delivered from outside the hotels.
Phase 2 – June to September: would involve the setting up of an exclusive travel area or “seal route” in which tourists could move around while doing Area Quarantine for 10 days. They would be restricted where they could move.
After they have completed their quarantine they can travel anywhere in Thailand.
The plan is to have Area Quarantine in Phuket, Pattaya, Krabi, Chiang Mai, Surat Thani (Khon Tao, Koh Samui and Koh Phangan), Phangnga and Bangkok.
Phase 3 October to December: is called the “Sand Box” and will be done from October to December in seven specified tourism provinces that are mostly by the sea. This could involve one day in quarantine with a swab test requirement for tourists who have already been vaccinated twice abroad.
Along with it will be an end to the Certificate of Entry document that will be replaced by a vaccine certificate (perhaps the so-called “vaccine passport).
Phase 4 from January onwards would see quarantine ended and free movement throughout the country though a one day quarantine with swab test might still be required. Tourists would still need to have been vaccinated twice abroad and have documentation related to that.
Under the Open System tourists will be able to come for a stay of 45 days (up from the previous 30) or utilize Special Tourist Visas, Yacht Quarantine or Elite cards.
Hopes ride on Sandbox success
The island’s beleaguered travel industry is pinning its hopes on the “pilot” scheme to trigger recovery, but it will be a slow start as a nation-wide surge in Covid-19 cases (more than 5,000 new cases reported Monday) puts Thailand in the high-risk category, according to assessments made by the Global Covid-19 Index.(more…)
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