Thailand to reopen with quarantine-free travel for some vaccinated visitors in November

Country plans to welcome immunised tourists from 10 countries including the US, UK, Singapore, Germany and China

Phi Phi Don island in the Andaman Sea. Thailand plans to fully re-open to some vaccinated tourists from November 1. AFP
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Thailand will relax its strict Covid-19 travel regulations for some tourists in November.

The Land of Smiles has announced that from November 1, travellers from 10 countries will be able to visit without quarantine so long as they are fully vaccinated.

Details on the reopening plan remain scarce, but authorities have said that countries deemed "low-risk" in the initial phases will include the UK, the US, Germany, China and Singapore.

The other five countries have not yet been named.

No details on how authorities will determine which countries are "low-risk" have been announced. The United States has regularly recorded the highest number of daily Covid-19 cases in the world for over three months, and the UK also has some of the highest daily case numbers.

Travellers coming from these so-called "low-risk" destinations will need a negative Covid-19 test before flying, and another after arrival.

If the results from the second test are negative, then travellers will be able to travel freely around Thailand. Rules on whether children will need to be vaccinated have not been detailed.

Tourists prepare for a Covid-19 swab test after arriving in Phuket, southern Thailand.  AP Photo / Sakchai Lalit

Thailand's Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said in a televised broadcast on Monday that he has instructed the country's Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) and the Ministry of Public Health to consider reopening the country to fully vaccinated tourists without quarantine on November 1.

More countries will be added to the low-risk list in December.

“We will have to track the situation very carefully, and see how to contain and live with that situation because I do not think that the many millions who depend on the income generated by the travel, leisure and entertainment sector can possibly afford the devastating blow of a second lost New Year holiday period,” said the prime minister.

Thailand has struggled to contain the Covid-19 pandemic despite strict lockdowns in place for more than 18 months.

The country has reopened some island destinations to vaccinated tourists under its tourism sandbox scheme. Under these plans, visitors do not need to quarantine as long as they do not leave the region they are staying in.

Plans to reopen Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Pattaya and Hua Hin to vaccinated tourists under a similar plan were announced in September. But this plan was pushed back owing to a slow roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccine for locals. Under the proposed reopening plans, local vaccination rates must be above 70 per cent before vaccinated tourists can visit.

Before the pandemic, December was high season for Thailand's tourism industry, with many tourists heading to the Asian holiday hotspot seeking winter sunshine and New Year celebrations. In 2020, the country's tourist arrivals in December were down 99.8 per cent to only 6,500 visitors, according to official data from the Thai tourism authority.

Thailand has reported more than 1.7 million Covid-19 cases and nearly 18,000 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Updated: October 12, 2021, 5:35 AM