Under the announcement by the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) on Friday, from May 1 all international travellers ‒ vaccinated and unvaccinated ‒ will no longer be required to show proof of a pre-arrival negative RT-PCR test and will not be required to undergo a test on arrival.
However, they will be still required to register for a Thailand Pass (via https://tp.consular.go.th/) with a Certificate of COVID-19 Vaccination and a COVID insurance policy with coverage of no less than US$10,000 (reduced from US$20,000).
For vaccinated travellers, once they arrive in Thailand, they will be allowed entry and will be free to go anywhere in the country.
Likewise, unvaccinated travellers who submit proof of a negative RT-PCR test within 72 hours of travel to the Thailand Pass system will be allowed entry and will be free to go anywhere in the country.
However, unvaccinated international travellers ‒ and that includes those deemed to be “not fully vaccinated” ‒ who do ont submit proof of a negative RT-PCR test will be still required to submit to the Thailand Pass system evidence of a five-day hotel booking. Further, once they arrive in Thailand, they must observe five days in their accommodation quarantine and undergo an RT-PCR test on Day 5 of their stay.
The new measures, yet to be ratified in the Government Gazette, finally bring Thailand into line with many competing tourist destinations in the region. However, the current state of play internationally begs the question whether the Thailand Pass approval is still needed at all.
The reason given for holding off any major easing of restrictions a month ago was the potential fallout of COVID infections expected during the Songkran holidays. Of note, while officials have been reporting “record” numbers of infections post-Songkran, they have neglected to mention in those same reports their own figure of 95% of infections resulting in slight to no symptoms at all.
Hence for Phuket, even after the Songkran mass water fights on Bangla Rd that made national news, the worst “spike” in infections rose to only 180 infections officially reported on Thursday (Apr 21) ‒ the highest number of infections recorded in a day since the mass water fights on Apr 12-13.
If officials are to believe their own statistics, that means a grand total of nine people in Phuket suffered infections deserving hospital treatment on the island’s worst day for COVID infections in the “fallout” from Songkran. That’s nine serious infections reported on one day, on an island with more than half a million people.
That figure alone deserves serious attention when it comes to understanding the real effect of infections spreading throughout the country today ‒ especially when the easing of restrictions is being intentionally delayed.
The latest easing is of course much-welcomed news for Phuket, especially for those who have struggled for the past two years to still have a business to eventually reopen. Yet the coming month will soon let everyone know what key tourism figures have been warning for months now: it may be a matter of too little, too late.