Thailand ending quarantine for some visitors in bid to revive tourism

BANGKOK • Thailand's main coronavirus task force has approved a plan to end quarantine for vaccinated travellers from some countries starting next month, in an attempt to revive its struggling tourism sector ahead of the year-end holiday season.

Air travellers from the US, Britain, China, Germany and Singapore will be exempted from quarantine on arrival from Nov 1, said Mr Taweesilp Visanuyothin, a spokesman for the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration, at a briefing yesterday.

The panel gave its approval to fewer than the 10 nations targeted by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha earlier this week, but it may add more countries to the list after due diligence, said Mr Taweesilp.

The panel also shortened a night curfew by two hours to between 11pm and 3am starting tomorrow, while reducing the number of provinces deemed at the highest risk of Covid-19 from 29 to 23. But the panel retained the capital Bangkok, a gateway for tourists, in the highest-risk category because of the high number of new cases.

The number of active cases has fallen to about 100,000 from a peak of more than 210,000 in August, allowing the tourism-and trade-reliant nation to permit more economic activities.

Thailand's pace of vaccinations has picked up in recent months, with almost 50 per cent of the population receiving at least one dose, while more than a third has received two doses.

The government is all set to exceed its target of inoculating 70 per cent of the country's residents by the end of the year, according to Mr Prayut.

The country is also set to expand its reopening programme, modelled after the "Phuket Sandbox", to cover 17 provinces with high inoculation rates including Bangkok from Nov 1.

Vaccinated travellers from countries not included in the quarantine-free list who arrive in these regions will not have to isolate themselves, provided they do not travel to other parts of Thailand for at least one week.

Currently, Singapore allows the entry of travellers from Thailand only if they have immediate family members who are Singaporeans or permanent residents (PRs), are entering Singapore to complete PR formalities or for urgent compassionate reasons.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 15, 2021, with the headline 'Thailand ending quarantine for some visitors in bid to revive tourism'. Subscribe