With the rise in the numbers of COVID-19 infections connected to the Omicron variant, the Thailand government on January 7, 2022 extended the suspension of its quarantine waiver programme. By Manas Sen Gupta
Reports say that the decision was taken at a general meeting chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha. No date has been specified for the duration of the suspension, which was first implemented on December 22, 2021.
A look at new rules in Thailand as Omicron cases rise
Suspension of ‘Test & Go’
According to Reuters, Taweesin Visanuyothin, the spokesperson of the COVID-19 task force, said that no new applications for “Test & Go”, the quarantine waiver scheme in Thailand, will be granted approval.
The new rule does not apply to people who have already applied. According to Visanuyothin, existing applicants will be granted entry in Thailand without quarantine till 15 January.
Travellers who are existing applicants will have to take an RT-PCR test upon arrival and another one by the seventh day of their stay.
Sandbox programme expanded
Even though “Test & Go” has been indefinitely suspended, visitors to Thailand have some reason to cheer with the expansion of the Sandbox programme to more areas.
The schemes will now apply to Krabi, Phang Nga, or the Surat Thani islands of Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao starting January 11, 2022.
Only fully vaccinated travellers can opt for the Sandbox programme, which was until now open only to Phuket. Tourists can stay at government-approved hotels in the Sandbox areas after taking an RT-PCR test upon arrival.
Also starting January 11, 2022, people from eight African countries, previously designated as high-risk, will be allowed to travel to Thailand.
Alcohol limit on bars
The Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration gave the green light to reopening of bars, nightclubs and karaoke venues temporarily as “restaurants” starting 16 January. However, not all will be allowed to serve alcohol.
“Social drinking is the cause of the virus spread. Measures to restrict this will help curb the spread,” Visanuyothin said.
Thus, a ban on booze remains on restaurants in all provinces classified as “orange” zones starting 9 January, while approved restaurants in the eight “blue” zones, including Bangkok, will be able to serve alcohol till 9 pm every night.
On January 7, 2022, Thailand reported 7,526 coronavirus cases — twice the number on January 2, 2022, and the highest since early November 2021.