Vaccinated arrivals to Thailand will once again be eligible for a Test & Go exemption for quarantine from Feb 1, the Centre for Coronavirus Situation Administration (CCSA) announced on Thursday, responding to a slowdown in Coronavirus infections.
A month ago, the test & Go scheme was suspended after only seven weeks due to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant in the world and uncertainties about its efficacy against it.
CCSA spokesperson Taweesilp Visanuyothin informed a briefing that those who enter the country under the program must take a test upon arrival and again five days later while agreeing to have their whereabouts tracked.
In addition to being required to stay at a hotel while they await results, they will also have to download a tracking app to ensure their compliance.
Test & Go halted by Omicron
The government launched the Test & Go scheme in November in a bid to boost the economy after the poorest economic performance since 1997’s Asian financial crisis.
In light of no spikes in deaths or hospitalizations following Omicron, Dr Taweesilp said the program could be resumed, though the authorities will keep an eye on it.
“If the situation changes or if there are more infections, we will re-evaluate incoming travellers and adjust our Sandbox scheme,” he added.
Visitors who are fully vaccinated and have been injected spend seven nights in designated areas before being allowed to move on to the rest of Thailand as part of the Sandbox scheme launched last year.
At present, Sandbox is located in Phuket, Koh Samui, Krabi, and Phangnga.
On Thursday, the CCSA expanded its programme to include popular eastern beach destinations Pattaya and Koh Chang.
Alcohol restrictions eased
Additionally, restaurants will be allowed to serve alcohol until 11 pm, an extension of the current 9 pm cut-off. However, bars and nightclubs will remain closed.
Efforts are being made to revive the tourism sector decimated by the pandemic, with numbers limited by inadequate global travel demand and strict quarantine requirements.
The number of visitors to Thailand last year was only 0.5% of the pre-pandemic figure, which was nearly 40 million in 2019.
In 2022, the Tourism and Sports Ministry estimates that there will be around five million foreign tourists in Thailand.
In total, the country has reported 2.3 million infections and almost 22,000 deaths caused by Coronaviruses. Approximately two-thirds of residents have received a vaccination and 15% received a booster.