Thailand has resumed limited foreign tourists' entry and inbound tourist flights, using special tourist visas as of Oct. 21 amid ongoing restrictions to stem the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The travelers must adhere to several protocols, including testing negative for COVID-19 before the trip and upon arrival, committing to staying in Thailand for at least 30 days, quarantining at government-designated facilities for two weeks upon arrival, and downloading a contact tracing application. Cargo, emergency, and repatriation flights and government aircraft can continue operating.
Businesses nationwide can operate on-site with social distancing measures in place. Conferences, seminars, and concerts can also take place with health controls, including frequently sanitizing the venues and requiring the use of masks and temperature monitoring. Most schools have reopened. Domestic flights and other forms of public transport can operate with full passenger capacity as long as safeguards, such as requiring passengers to wear protective face coverings and frequently sanitize their hands, are in place. Spectators can attend sporting events if organizers enforce distancing controls.
Officials in several provinces are enforcing localized measures. Some provincial authorities are screening arrivals and quarantining symptomatic passengers, while governments in other areas are isolating all incoming travelers regardless of symptoms. 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 controls in recent weeks; officials may introduce or tweak measures at short notice.
Locals across Thailand have demonstrated against the continued nationwide state of emergency despite the decreasing number of COVID-19 cases; some protesters claim that officials are utilizing the state of emergency to control the ongoing pro-democracy protests nationwide. The rallies have prompted localized transport and business disruptions nearby the venues, especially in Bangkok. Additional gatherings will likely occur in the coming weeks and months.
People who can enter Thailand will quarantine for 14 days at government-designated facilities upon arrival, with limited exemptions. Foreigners also have to comply with health protocols, such as getting a letter from the nearest Thai embassy, a health insurance policy, and a certificate that they do not carry COVID-19 and quarantining for two weeks at government-designated facilities upon arrival in Thailand. The government may allow resident diplomats and their family members to isolate at their residence for two weeks.
Authorities have extended short-term visas for foreigners already in Thailand through Oct. 31. Several land checkpoints are operational, though the government continues to ban foreigners from entering the country through border checkpoints.
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. Avoid any demonstrations as a precaution.
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.