The news came at the national briefing on the COVID situation broadcast from Government House in Bangkok following a general meeting of the CCSA chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.
“From October on, we will not have quarantine anymore, as most people will be vaccinated. However, we will ‘close observation’ which we will arrange a place to monitor.
“We will use the measure that we call ‘bubble and seal’, such as ‘bubble areas’ in airports, ‘sealed routes’ in transport, and ‘bubble routes’ to tourists attractions and communities nearby,” he said.
Quarantine measures will begin easing from April 1, Mr Taweesilp announced, starting with the relaxation of certificates required to enter the country.
“At this stage, foreigners coming to Thailand need to have a ‘Fit to Fly’ and ‘Covid Free’ documents, but from April 1, they only need to have the ‘Covid Free’ certificate,” he said.
The easing of quarantine measures will be rolled out in phases, with the quarantine venues available reduced in stages, Mr Taweesilp said.
While no changes will be made to quarantine venues available from April through June, from July 1 through Sept 1 “ASQ, LQ, ALQ [Alternative State Quarantine, Local Quarantine and Alternative Local Quarantine] will be removed from the quarantine choice,” he said.
The activities arrivals will be allowed to enjoy will be expanded from Apr 1, Mr Taweesilp said.
“For the activities during the quarantine, in Phase 1 from April to June, foreigners can use fitness centres, do outdoor exercise, swim, ride bicycles in the control areas, and order foods or products from outside to be delivered to them.
“In Phase 2, July to September, two more activities – having meals at the hotel restaurant and having a massage – are allowed. Those who come for a seminar or to operate a business will be allowed to join meetings in meeting rooms.
“In Phase 3, from October on, the quarantine will be only for those coming from the risk areas set by the Ministry of Public Health,” Mr Taweesilp added.
“For the length of the quarantine Phase 1 and 2, both foreigners vaccinated and those not vaccinated will have to face only 10 days in quarantine.
“In Phase 3, there will not be quarantine in some areas where more than 70% of the population has been vaccinated. At that time, those areas can welcome foreigners from low-risk countries,” he said.
“However, those who come from the countries where there are the mutated strains of the COVID-19 virus must face the full 14-day quarantine,”
Natapanu Nopakun, Deputy Spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in the English section of the briefing explained that the mandatory 14-day has been approved to be reduced to 10 days for people coming to Thailand from countries with no cases of COVID variant strains.
People arriving from countries with the variant strains will be subjected to three RT-PCR tests while in quarantine, while those arriving from countries not recognised as having the variant strains will be subjected to two tests during their 10-day stay, he said.
“Of course, the list of countries deemed to be classified as not having COVID variant strain has yet to be determined,” he added.
Mr Natapanu was not as clear-cut as Mr Taweesilp in saying there will be no mandatory quarantine from Oct 1.
He would commit to saying only "possibly no quarantine" for people arriving from countries deemed to not have the mutated strains of the virus.
Further, the lifting of quarantine requirements would be “according to the criteria we will be setting at that time”, he said.
“It depends on the situation at that time,” he repeated.
Mr Natapanu also noted that Thailand had already received 200,000 doses of the Chinese-made Sinovac vaccine, to be administered to frontline medical workers and “at risk” people already suffering from medical conditions by the end of April.
“A further 800,000 doses will arrive tomorrow,” he said, adding that the delivery tomorrow is to be “distributed to provinces of economic importance".
Thailand is to receive 2 million doses of the Sinovac vaccine, he said, with 1mn to be administered by the end of April, and the remainder to be administered by Oct 1.
From June through Aug, Thailand is to receive 26mn doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, receiving 6mn in June, 10mn in July and 10mn in Aug.
A further 35mn doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine is to arrive from Sept through Dec, Mr Natapanu added, with 10mn arriving in Sept, 10mn in Oct, 10mn in Nov and the last 5mn in Dec.
The emergency decree has been extended for the 11th time “to allow interagency cooperation” in the fight against the spread of COVID-19, Mr Natapanu added.
The latest extension will be in effect from April 1 through to May 31, he said.
The upcoming Songkran festival to celebrate the Thai New Year will not include water splashing, powder smearing or foam parties, he added.
“The focus will be on merit making, such as pouring water on Buddha statues and on the hands of elderly people.
“Strict anti-COVID measures will still apply,” he said.