BANGKOK: The government has insisted that “Test & Go” foreign visitors whose applications for entry were previously approved will still be allowed to enter Thailand.
International passengers arrive at Suvarnabhumi airport on Monday (Dec 20). Photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb
The government has clarified the issue related to about 200,000 visitors who earlier applied for entry without quarantine via the Test & Go programme which has now been suspended, reports the Bangkok Post.
Of the 200,000 applicants, some 110,000 have had their registration approved but they have not yet arrived, while another 90,000 are waiting for approval for their applications, according to Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn.
Sumanee Wacharasin, assistant spokeswoman of the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA), said yesterday (Dec 22) that although the CCSA suspended new registrations for Test & Go from Tuesday, visitors whose registrations were previously approved will still be allowed in under revised measures.
She said the visitors could get out and about if their first RT-PCR test upon arrival came back negative.
However, hotel managements must ensure the visitors stay in their hotel rooms overnight until their test results are known, she said.
After being allowed to leave their hotels if they have negative results, visitors will be required to install the Mor Chana app to allow authorities to track them for another seven days.
They will have to take their second RT-PCR test on Day 5 or 6 after leaving their hotel, Dr Sumanee said, adding that foreign visitors will have to wear face masks while going out, for their own and the public’s safety.
The revised measures were put in place after an Israeli tourist left his Bangkok hotel on Dec 18 without waiting for his COVID-19 test result, which proved positive. The tourist surrendered to police on Koh Samui yesterday.
In light of the incident, the CCSA’s operation centre instructed the Tourism and Sports Ministry to set up a centre to monitor foreign visitors upon arrival until they check in at hotels and ensure they do not leave their hotel rooms until the result of their first RT-PCR test is known, Dr Sumanee said.
She added the Thailand Pass system has been closed for new applications for entry under the Test & Go and Sandbox programmes (except the Phuket Sandbox scheme), effective on Tuesday.
“The system will only accept new applicants seeking entry with quarantine or under the Phuket Sandbox programme,’” she said.
The government has decided to temporarily suspend the entry of both Thais and foreign arrivals under the Test & Go and Sandbox schemes (except the Phuket Sandbox) and reinstate mandatory quarantine in a bid to keep the Omicron coronavirus variant at bay.
Dr Sumanee said the Consular Affairs Department reported that 10,787 visitors were due to arrive at Suvarnabhumi airport and 2,546 others at Phuket airport yesterday.
She added the government would assess the COVID-19 situation and measures again on Jan 4.
Dr Sumanee said government officials were also prohibited from taking leave and going abroad unless it was essential.
Thais were advised to postpone any planned overseas trips, especially to Europe, America, Africa or the Middle East. People were also asked to conduct antigen tests before long trips with many other people.
Government organisations have been instructed that as many staff as possible must work from home after the New Year holiday, Dr Sumanee said.
People were also asked to take antigen tests before returning to their home provinces and before getting back to work after the New Year holiday for the safety of their family members and colleagues, she said.
Dr Sumanee added that there were 104 confirmed Omicron cases in the country as of yesterday and all have been quarantined and treated.
Some of them had already fully recovered and been discharged from hospital.
Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said the new measures for foreign visitors were not meant to keep them out.
“This is not to shut visitors out from Thailand, but only to step up measuress to reduce the risk and ensure safety for the country,” Mr Anutin said.
Meanwhile, Thailand logged 2,532 new COVID-19 cases, and 31 more fatalities during the previous 24 hours, the Public Health Ministry reported yesterday.
Source: The Phuket News