Thailand entry may be simplified by switching to antigen test

27-Nov-2021 Intellasia | Bangkok Post | 5:02 AM Print This Post

At the CCSA meeting on Friday, the Ministry of Public Health will propose easing entry requirements by replacing RT-PCR tests with a much cheaper and faster antigen test. Health authorities report that minister of Public Health Anutin Charnvirakul will propose the revision at Friday’s meeting to be enacted from December on.

The simplifying of the required Covid-19 test is part of an effort to relax entry restrictions to encourage tourists to come to Thailand. Currently, internationally arriving travellers transfer to an approved hotel where they will undergo an RT-PCR test and then be confined to their room until the test results are received, typically between 6 hours and 1 day.

While travellers in the Test & Go programme are not required to quarantine for any amount of time, the need to test negative for Covid-19 in a process that can take up to 24 hours, creates what is essentially a needed 1-day quarantine.

The proposed entry relaxation would also include expanding the ways people can get into Thailand, according to the director-General of the Department of Disease Control. While the Test & Go no-quarantine plan and Blue Zone 7-day arrival Sandboxes are only allowed by flight arrivals, the new plan would see some safe land borders and water entry points added to the ways fully vaccinated tourists can enter the Kingdom.

The push to relax restrictions come as the numbers of international tourists entering Thailand are significantly bigger than those during the Phuket Sandbox but very noticeably lower than the rosy predictions government agencies like the Tourism Authority of Thailand have been predicting. One silver lining though the percentage of tourists being diagnosed with Covid-19 has been very low, just 0.08%.

Easing and simplifying the entry procedure may draw more tourists, but one major point of contention that is preventing a substantial amount of travellers from booking holidays in Thailand is the national ban on alcohol. All entertainment venues are closed (legally at least, with many loopholes and businesses ignoring the rules being seen frequently), and alcohol is only allowed in restaurants in 4 of the 17 tourist provinces that have reopened.

The Pattaya City Mayor Sonthaya Khunploem reported that the CCSA will be discussing lifting or easing alcohol and nightlife restrictions in Pattaya at their meeting Friday, with a change possible but not guaranteed in December.


Category: Thailand

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