While Thailand moves to oust foreigners with lapsed visas, it continues to cautiously open the door to new arrivals.
Travelers with plush bank accounts, businesspeople from low-risk nations and athletes heeding a royal invitation will join those eligible for travel to the kingdom, the pandemic task force announced Monday.
In addition to foreign nationals holding new special long-term visas, spokesman Taweesilp Wissanuyothin said that anyone coming for stated business purposes can get a 60-day non-immigrant visa – but no work permit – if they can show they’ve had bank balances amounting to over THB500,000 for the past six months.
He also said up to 150 professional cyclers from abroad would participate in a long-distance royal cycling competition between Samut Songkhram and Surat Thani provinces after they complete two weeks of quarantine.
Meanwhile a partial implementation of the “travel bubble” idea is moving forward in the form of “APEC Cards.” The cards authorizing travel to Thailand will be issued to business and government travelers from 18 countries deemed low-risk such as New Zealand, South Korea, Hong Kong, Japan and Australia.
There are high barriers to those currently looking to take long holidays under the newly created Special Tourist Visa good for up to nine months. Not only will they have to quarantine for two weeks upon arrival, but they will also need to prove they have a minimum of THB3 million in health insurance coverage among other requirements.
Long-term foreign residents who have lost their jobs or seen their visas lapse for other reasons are being threatened with arrest if they stayed past Saturday’s expiration of an amnesty on immigration enforcement.
The cabinet today also approved the sixth extension of the Emergency Decree, which grants near-absolute powers to officials to contain the virus, until Oct. 31. Government critics have accused it of exploiting the pandemic in a bid to stymie protests against its rule.
Today also saw the highest one-day count of new infections reported in months. The 22 new cases were all detected inside state quarantine among Thais returning from Pakistan, the Philippines, India and South Sudan. Thailand has now reported 3,545 COVID-19 infections and 59 deaths since the outbreak began in January.