Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Thailand to relax some restrictions May 3 due to drop in coronavirus activity. Nationwide and localized movement controls ongoing.

This alert affects Thailand

This alert began 30 Apr 2020 17:26 GMT and is scheduled to expire 14 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Transport, travel, and business disruptions

Summary
Thailand plans to relax some of the nation's restrictions starting May 3 following a drop in new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases; nevertheless, authorities are have also extended the country's state of emergency through May 31. Several types of businesses can conditionally resume operations from May 3, including traditional food markets, shopping malls, restaurants, massage parlors, fitness centers, and gyms. The regulations allowing these establishments to reopen will also require them to implement measures to prevent further outbreaks of COVID-19, such as mandatory usage of face masks and social distancing. Additionally, a previous ban on domestic flights will be lifted as of May 1. Airlines will implement precautions, including leaving empty seats in each row, requiring passengers to wear face masks, and not serving food and beverages. In recent weeks, Thai authorities have sometimes provided conflicting information about COVID-19 restrictions; control measures may be modified at short notice.

Under Thailand's existing state of emergency, a 2200-0400 nightly curfew remains in effect nationwide, with exceptions for essential and emergency purposes. Authorities have advised residents - especially those under the age of five, over the age of 70, or with preexisting health conditions - to remain at home. Officials have also banned public gatherings and closed schools and universities nationwide. The government has closed or is severely restricting access to most public venues.

Public transport remains suspended 2130-0400 daily nationwide, with interprovincial travel limited to essential needs. Provincial authorities had imposed travel restrictions to and from Phang Nga and Phuket provinces as well as high-risk areas of Songkhla, Surat Thani, and Chon Buri provinces through at least April 30; however, it remains unclear as of April 30 if these restrictions will be extended further. Local authorities could reestablish or introduce new inter-provincial movement restrictions in the coming days if COVID-19 cases increase.

Travel Restrictions
The government has banned foreigners from entering the country, with some limited exemptions, including for diplomats and transport workers. Officials have extended a ban on inbound passenger flights through May 31. Cargo, emergency, and repatriation flights, and government aircraft will continue operating. The Thai government has approved visa extensions for foreigners already in Thailand through July 31.

Background and Analysis
The measures adopted by the Thai government are similar to actions taken by other regional governments in recent days in response to the spread of COVID-19. 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.

Advice
Confirm all travel arrangements. Follow official instructions, particularly if traveling from affected locations. Allow additional time for immigration and health screenings at all ports of entry. Consider delaying travel if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays.

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.


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