The Ministry of Public Health will suggest reducing entry restrictions by substituting RT-PCR testing with a faster and cost-friendly antigen test. The Minister of Public Health Anutin Charnvirakul would recommend the change which will take effect in December.
The need for the COVID-19 test to be simplified and cheaper is a part of an initiative to ease entry restrictions and attract foreign tourists to visit Thailand. Currently, foreign arrivals are transferred to an authorized hotel where they will need to undergo RT-PCR and stay in their room until the test results, which usually take from 6 to 24 hours.
While tourists participating in the Test & Go program don’t need to undergo quarantine, they are still required to be tested for COVID-19 which may take a day, thus establishing a 1-day quarantine requirement.
While the Blue Zone seven-day arrival Sandboxes and the Test & Go no-quarantine plan are only available only for flight arrivals, the new proposal would add water and land entry points to the list of ways for fully vaccinated visitors to visit Thailand.
The effort to ease restrictions comes as foreign visitor arrivals in Thailand are much higher than during the Phuket Sandbox but significantly below the optimistic expectations made by government institutions such as the Tourism Authority of Thailand. However, there is one good lining the proportion of visitors diagnosed with Covid-19 has been very low, at 0.08 percent.
While easing and streamlining the entry process will attract more foreign tourists, one key point of contention that prevents a significant number of travelers from visiting the country is Thailand’s nationwide alcohol ban. Entertainment venues are still closed and alcohol is only permitted in restaurants in 4 provinces.
According to Pattaya City Mayor Sonthaya Khunploem, the CCSA will talk about removing or easing night entertainment and alcohol restrictions in Pattaya with a chance but not assured change in December.
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