Severity: Critical Alert
Exit/Entry: Thai authorities suspending all inbound flights as of July 15. State of emergency in effect despite easing of measures.
- Alert Begins: 15 Jul 2020 05:08 PM UTC
- Alert Expires: 31 Jul 2020 11:59 PM UTC
- Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
- Location(s): Nationwide (map)
- Time Frame: Indefinite
- Impact: Transport, travel, and business disruptions, quarantine measures
Authorities in Thailand have banned all incoming international flights as of July 15 until further notice due to a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) incident; an Egyptian soldier did not self-quarantine and visited a shopping center before testing positive for COVID-19.
The ban is in effect amid an ongoing state of emergency active through July 31. While diplomatic flights are banned from entering Thailand, it is not clear if cargo, emergency, and repatriation flights are exempted from the ban. Prior to the flight ban, authorities had been gradually reducing nationwide restrictions. The government approved visa extensions for foreigners already in Thailand through July 31. Authorities have also reopened dozens of checkpoints along the Thai border for the transport of goods. Officials continue to ban foreigners from entering the country through border checkpoints.
At the domestic level, Thai authorities are continuing to enforce restrictions despite having eased other measures. Businesses were allowed to reopen July 1 while implementing some social distancing measures, such as sanitizing venues, wearing face coverings, and monitoring temperatures. Conferences, seminars, and concerts are allowed, albeit with social distancing. Most educational institutions reopened July 1. Domestic flights can continue to operate with full passenger capacity as long as safeguards, such as requiring passengers to wear protective face coverings, are in place. Public transport has also resumed with reduced capacity.
Local-level measures are in place in several provinces, though some local governments are easing restrictions. The central government has instructed provincial authorities to screen arrivals from Phuket Province and quarantine symptomatic passengers. Officials have reopened Phuket International Airport (HKT) for domestic flights since June 13; Phuket's authorities may require symptomatic arriving passengers to undergo tests and quarantine at designated facilities. Several provinces, including Buri Ram and Chiang Mai, require arrivals to self-quarantine for 14 days. Local authorities in Bangkok have eased controls on public buses; measures include permitting 10 standing passengers for each vehicle and allowing people from the same household to sit next to each other. Officials may reestablish or introduce nationwide or local-level restrictions in the coming weeks if COVID-19 cases increase. Authorities have sometimes provided conflicting information about COVID-19 restrictions in recent weeks; changes to measures may occur at short notice.
Background and Analysis
COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.
Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm all travel arrangements. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions. Reconsider and reconfirm nonemergency health appointments.
Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.