‘Thai People Only’: Famed Bangkok temple refuses entry to foreigners

Signs posted outside Wat Po. Photo: Richard Barrow / Courtesy
Signs posted outside Wat Po. Photo: Richard Barrow / Courtesy

Since one of the world’s best known Buddhist temples reopened last week, it has been turning away its most frequent visitors: foreigners.

Famous for its giant reclining Buddha statue, Wat Pho confirmed this afternoon that it is only allowing Thai nationals inside and refusing entry to all others. 

A temple representative reached by phone Thursday who wouldn’t give her name said the new policy was meant to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

“It’s because most COVID-19 cases were found in foreigners,” she said.

The policy was brought to attention by blogger Richard Barrow who shared photos of signs posted outside the temple, which is formally known as Wat Phra Chetuphon and is located south of the Grand Palace. 

“Only Thai People. Now Not Open For Foreigners,” one read. It checked out with a temple announcement last week, signed by the abbot Phra Thammarattanakorn. 

Thai visitors to one of the capital’s most popular landmarks must undergo a temperature scan, wash their hands with sanitizer and wear face masks, in addition to the usual “polite” clothing rule.

Today marks the 17th day Thailand has detected no cases of domestic transmission. For the past two weeks, all confirmed COVID-19 cases were found in Thais returned from abroad.

Asked about that, the woman answering the temple’s phone said all Thai visitors will be surveyed about their travel history.

Though borders and airports have been closed for months, the pandemic rages on elsewhere, fueling the perception that foreigners are a threat of infection. Popular intraprovincial buses are also reportedly refusing to allow non-citizens aboard.

The nearby Grand Palace, which also reopened one week ago, said today it has not banned foreign visitors and only requires all guests to wear face masks.

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