The United States has released its latest travel advisory, focusing mainly on identifying and grouping nations according to their risk of COVID-19 disease for its citizens.
Thailand is listed together with other 12 groups in the “low risk” category, together with Brunei, Laos, Taiwan and Timor-Leste.
New Zealand, Fiji and the Caribbean Islands also rank among the low risk countries in the list.
207 countries are in the “high risk” category, which means that traveling to these places will put US citizens most at risk for contracting the COVID-19 virus.
The list, which is prepared by the US State Department and the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention, is continually updated based on research on each nation’s basic health infrastructure and medical workforce capability, together with periodic assessment of infections, and each country’s capability of managing disease outbreaks like the COVID-19.
Thailand has been closed to foreign tourism since March, when an emergency decree imposed a strict lockdown on a host of essential activities and services including travel, school and offices.
Lately, however, the government is working on slowly easing the lockdown, although the emergency decree is set to be in place until August 31.
On Friday, the Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration or CCSA convened in order to discuss the resumption of essential services and activities. These include face-to-face learning in schools, removing social distancing in public transportation, resuming food services in flights, extending the operating hours of entertainment venues, and reintroducing live audiences in sports events.
The CCSA will be announcing the results of its meeting in the coming weeks.
The Provincial Government of Phuket also followed suit on Friday, with Governor Narong Woonchiew announcing the reopening of public places and entertainment centers, as well as preparing venues to welcome film crews.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha also called on the Ministry of Public Health to coordinate with the CCSA and come up with guidelines to govern the return of foreign nationals into the country.
Minister Prayut ordered the agencies to create regulations with special focus on businessmen attending trade expos and foreign workers specializing in an important function in factories and industries.
He also called on financial institutions in the private sector to provide relief for COVID-19 impacted businesses by easing their repayment requirements to accommodate each business’ financial capabilities.
In an attempt to revitalize the ailing industry, the Association of Thai Travel Agents presented last Wednesday to Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn and Tourism Authority of Thailand Yuthasak Supasorn the “Safe and Sealed” tourism package.
The package aims to attract 500,000 tourists from cities that have gone without a case of COVID-19 infection in the last 60 days.
Minister Phiphat will be presenting the plan to relevant government agencies in the coming weeks.
Dr. Thira Woratanarat of the Chulalongkorn University warned the government against reopening of its borders to foreign tourists.
The epidemiologist feels that opening Thailand’s borders will increase its risk of importing a significant number of cases of the virus from abroad. This, he cautioned, can cause a second wave of infection and force the government to reinforce lockdowns all over the country.
He urged self-suficiency of the economy until a vaccine is available or if the presence of the virus is significantly reduced globally.