Thailand will be resuming international travel from Wednesday under new rules, with the country anticipating 50,000 travellers, according to a government spokesman.
Business travellers from Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, South Korea and China will be allowed to enter the country without quarantine, provided they can medically certify they do not have COVID-19. Other travellers, including medical tourists, skilled workers, and individuals with family ties, will be allowed into the country, subject to a two-week quarantine.
The nation has had no locally transmitted cases for the past 35 days, as of Monday, according to Reuters. Thailand currently has 3,169 active cases, 58 deaths, and 7 daily cases as of yesterday, according to official figures.
Thailand will enter Phase 5 of its COVID-19 restrictions easing plan on Wednesday, with bars, pubs and massage parlours set to reopen, provided adequate social distancing measures are enforced.
However, the nation’s military-backed government will also be extending its state of emergency for the third time to 31 July, a government representative stated yesterday, drawing criticism from opposition parties for using the COVID-19 pandemic to consolidate political power. The emergency decree has been in place since 26 March.
The government’s previous extension of the emergency decree to the end of June was also criticised as “an apparent pretext for violating basic rights” by Human Rights Watch (HRW). “The Emergency Decree provides Thai authorities unchecked powers to suppress fundamental freedoms with zero accountability,” HRW Asian Director Brad Adams stated. “There is no legitimate basis for extending this decree, which allows for the arbitrary and disproportionate restriction of rights guaranteed under international law and the Thai constitution.”
Thailand’s tourism sector, which contributed approximately 20% of the country’s GDP in 2019, has been hard-hit by the impacts of COVID-19 – the Tourism Authority of Thailand estimated a 65% drop in annual tourist arrivals in 2020. In response, the government has launched a TBH 22.4 billion (USD 725 million) domestic tourism scheme earlier this month to subsidise two million trips between 1 July and 31 October.
The government is also considering travel bubble schemes with neighbouring countries including Japan, Australia, Hong Kong, and China, although these will not likely commence until early August.