After pouring cold water on the kingdom’s hope for tourism recovery – and muddying that water with confusing details – tourism officials last night clarified that travelers already approved for entry may proceed as expected.
The 200,000-or-so visitors who have received their QR codes under the so-called Thailand Pass program will only need to submit to a second RT-PCR test at the government’s expense, the tourism authority announced, acknowledging the “very fluid and fast changing [sic] situation.”
The program was abruptly suspended yesterday in the face of several dozen cases of a worrying COVID-19 variant that, while still under study, is highly transmissible and expected to ignite outbreaks worldwide. The announcement had the effect of pouring gas on the smoldering remains of the tourism industry and fit an established pattern of announce first, figure out details later.
The move was widely slammed as an overreaction with little hope of achieving more than keeping families apart and harming the economy.
“Virus doesn’t give a shit about Thailand pass, test and go, or sandboxes,” Luke Hubbard tweeted. Once you have local spread it’s just a matter of time.”
Virus doesn’t give a shit about Thailand pass, test and go, or sandboxes. Once you have local spread it’s just a matter of time.— Luke Hubbard (@LukeInTH) December 21, 2021
The COVID-19 task force ordered a stop to all new applications under the tourism regimen in place since November that allowed vaccinated travelers free movement once they had passed a test upon arriving.
The authority said additional contact-tracing measures would be imposed, and the second required test would take place at “government-designated facilities [at] no additional cost.”
“Applicants who have registered, but have not received their QR Code must wait for their Thailand Pass to be considered / approved,” the authority said in a statement. “Once approved, they can enter Thailand under the scheme they have registered.”
Travelers may still apply to enter via the “sandbox” scheme that requires them to remain in a designated travel area and submit to a battery of tests, as well as something the government calls “Happy Quarantine,” which they probably do not realize sounds much worse.
The suspension will be reviewed in two weeks.
So hundreds, or probably thousands of expat teachers are home for Xmas, but have to work sometime between 4 to 9th of Jan – and now must do a 14 day #asq on return. What a mess.— Mr J BKK (@bkkj_jinbkk) December 21, 2021
So far I’ve read that in order to get back into Thailand, those with a Thailand Pass— Samut Prakan Phil (@Ajarncom) December 21, 2021
1) will have to do 1 extra test,
2) will have to do 2 extra tests,
3) will have to do a 7-day quarantine,
4) won’t have to do a 7-day quarantine.
On call with dad to let him know that they are scrapping the Test & Go for now. Relieved that he didn’t book anything yet but very disappointed to not know when he will be able to come.— LiniBKK (@LiniBKK) December 21, 2021