Severity: Critical Alert

Exit/Entry: Thailand reopening 37 border checkpoints for goods from July 1. COVID-19 controls, state of emergency in effect despite easing of measures.

  • Alert Begins: 01 Jul 2020 09:40 AM 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

Summary
Central authorities in Thailand are reopening 37 border checkpoints for the transport of goods and traders from July 1 amid reduced coronavirus disease (COVID-19) activity. Foreign tourists remain banned from entering Thailand through border checkpoints. The government has also allowed inbound passenger flights to resume from July 1. Cargo, emergency, and repatriation flights and exempt government aircraft will continue to operate. Officials are also allowing some groups of foreigners to enter the country from July 1. This measure applies to businesspeople from mainland China, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, and South Korea, students, foreign spouses of Thai nationals and work permit holders, and medical tourists, among others. Diplomats, transport workers, and work permit holders can continue to enter Thailand. Work permit holders need to obtain permission at the nearest Thai embassies, undergo health screenings, and purchase health insurance covering COVID-19 treatment. Foreigners who can enter Thailand will undergo a 14-day quarantine at government-designated facilities upon arrival, with a possible exception for businesspeople. Exempted businesspeople will need to comply with other health protocols, including taking COVID-19 tests before the trip and upon arrival in Thailand, adhering to a pre-agreed itinerary, and commuting only with private cars. The government has approved visa extensions for foreigners already in Thailand through July 31.

At the domestic level, the nationwide state of emergency remains in place through July 31 to facilitate the enforcement of restrictions, despite the easing of some curbs. Authorities are allowing all businesses to resume operations from July 1, with varying social distancing controls, including frequently sanitizing the venues and requiring the use of masks and temperature monitoring. Events like conferences, exhibitions, seminars, and concerts can continue with social distancing protocols. Most educational institutions can reopen from July 1. Domestic flights can continue to operate with full passenger capacity as long as safeguards, such as requiring passengers to wear masks, are in place. Public transport vehicles can operate with 70 percent of passenger capacity and other precautions.

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.

Advice
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.


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