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New Entry Regulations from December 22.2021

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  • New Entry Regulations from December 22.2021

    Test & Go Registration Suspended – New Entry Regulations from December 22.2021

    Just 7 weeks after introducing (almost) quarantine-free re-entry into Thailand, the Thai government announced it is suspending registration for the Test & Go quarantine exemption scheme as well as the “Sandbox” scheme, with the exception of the Phuket Sandbox. Those who have registered, and been approved, under the Thailand Pass system can still enter the country under Test & Go or the Sandbox scheme.
    The decision was made due to the increasing number of Omicron cases involving travellers entering Thailand from overseas, according to the deputy spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Natapanu Nopakun, speaking during a press briefing on the Covid-19 situation.

    Natapanu cited a recent World Health Organisation report saying the Omicron variant is spreading much faster than the Delta variant. He added that closing Thailand Pass registration is intended to prevent the potential increase in local transmissions, which would, in turn, overwhelm the healthcare system and impact people’s livelihoods. The first local transmission of the Omicron variant in Thailand was reported this week. Yesterday, the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration held an urgent meeting, chaired by PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, and decided to close registration for the two entry schemes until further notice. The CCSA will discuss revisions to the Thailand Pass after the holidays on January 4.2022
    • Travellers from approved countries can still apply for the Thailand Pass to enter the country under the Phuket Sandbox or the Alternative Quarantine schemes.
    • The Test & Go scheme has allowed vaccinated travellers from low risk countries to enter Thailand with a minimal quarantine period at a hotel while they wait for results from an RT-PCR test, which can take up to a day. The Sandbox programme has allowed vaccinated travellers to roam freely in provinces and areas approved for the pilot tourism scheme for seven days before travelling throughout the country.
    Entry for those approved for Thailand Pass
    Those who have been approved under the Test & Go or sandbox programme, and have received a Thailand Pass QR code, can still enter Thailand under the two schemes. Those travellers are now required to undergo an additional RT-PCR test, with the first one taken upon arrival and the second test taken at a government-designated facility on their seventh day in Thailand. The Thai government made an announcement and with an official graphic saying the last group of those approved under the Test & Go scheme will be able to enter until January 10. The Department of Consular Affairs, which runs the Thailand Pass website, has not made an official statement on a cut off date for those registered for the Test & Go and Sandbox schemes.

    Registered for the Thailand Pass | Waiting for Approval
    For applicants who have registered through the Thailand Pass, but have not received a QR code, will need to wait until they are approved. Once approved, they can enter Thailand under the scheme they registered for.

    Entry under the Phuket Sandbox
    Travellers can still register and enter under the Phuket Sandbox scheme, which allows fully vaccinated travellers to stay on the island province rather than isolating at a quarantine-approved hotel. Travellers must stay on the island for at least seven days and book a stay at a hotel or resort approved for the scheme. Travellers will need to undergo an RT-PCR Test upon arrival, and then another on day seven of their stay in Thailand. Travellers must apply for a Thailand Pass QR code.

    Entry under Alternative Quarantine
    Travellers entering Thailand under the Alternative Quarantine scheme… or as tourism officials like to call it “Happy Quarantine,” must isolate at an approved hotel, resort, or quarantine facility, seven to 14 days. The length of the quarantine period depends on vaccination status and which country the traveller is coming from.
    • Travellers will undergo two to three RT-PCR tests before being released from quarantine.
    • Travellers must apply for a Thailand Pass QR code.
    Countries on Thailand’s “No Entry” List
    Travellers from eight African countries are currently banned from entering Thailand due to the emergence of the Omicron Covid-19 variant. Those countries include Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.

  • #2
    Phuket | Samui Sandbox Program

    The Phuket Sandbox is now the only quarantine substitution programme open for registration, but those on the Gulf of Thailand island Koh Samui are calling on the government to allow the Samui Sandbox scheme to continue as usual. Since the government’s announcement yesterday on closing registration for the Test & Go quarantine exemption scheme and the Sandbox scheme, with the exception of the Phuket Sandbox, a number of people cancelled their hotel bookings, according to the director of the Tourism Association of Samui. (Those who have registered under Test & Go, or the Sandbox, can still enter through the schemes.)

    He added that the unexpected suspension of the Test & Go registration, and drop in bookings, comes at a critical time – the island’s high season, when many hoteliers and resort owners expected an uptick in revenue. The island’s tourism association director, Ratchaporn Pulsawat, argues that Samui should remain an option under the Sandbox programme as more than 80% of the island’s population are vaccinated.

    He says that this month, there has been an influx of visitors on the island and many businesses have reopened. Closure for Test & Go and Sandbox registration could hurt Samui businesses that have already struggled during the nearly two-year pandemic.

    Ratchaporn told Thai media that business owners in Samui and the neighbouring islands of Koh Phangan and Koh Tao will propose a letter to the government to include Samui in the Sandbox programme under the same guidelines as Phuket.


    • #3
      No cutoff date for those approved to enter Thailand under Test & Go, Sandbox

      There is no travel cutoff date (for now) for those approved to enter Thailand under the Test & Go or Sandbox entry schemes. Following the decision to close Thailand Pass registration for the two schemes, the government announced the last group of approved travellers would arrive on January 10. 2022 That date was never posted in the Royal Gazette, and a spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that there is no cutoff date.

      The entry schemes and current regulations will be reviewed on January 4 by the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration. The urgent decision to close registration for the two entry schemes, with the exception of the Phuket Sandbox, was made after Thailand’s first local Omicron transmission was reported.

      The Thai government posted a graphic with the January 10 date and an announcement on both the official Royal Thai Government website and the government spokesperson’s Facebook page. (The posts are still up.)

      The date was also reported by numerous media outlets – both Thai and English – including the National News Bureau of Thailand, which is run by the Government Public Relations Department, and Thai PBS World, which is owned by the Royal Thai Government. A spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs says reports of the January 10 cutoff date are false. The Ministry’s Department of Consular Affairs runs the Thailand Pass website and no cutoff date is mentioned on the website.


      • #4
        Plans change for 30,000 Tourists | European Travel Company cancels flights to Phuket

        Following the cancellation of Thailand’s “Test & Go” tourist scheme amidst fear of an Omicron outbreak, the Europe’s largest travel firm TUI Nordic announced it had cancelled scheduled chartered flights to Phuket from December to April next year. Around 30,000 people had plans to travel to the island province.

        The head of the Phuket Hotels Association (Kata and Karon), Angkhana Thaneswisetkul, said most visitors were hesitant to visit Thailand after Omicron cases piled up despite the New Year’s holidays, and that some EU nations are already instituting quarantine for returnees from countries with the new variant.

        “The announcement came on December 25, a couple of days after the government suspended the Test & Go scheme, which allows registrants to enter Thailand without having to quarantine.”
        At the same time, the acting president of the Chon Buri Federation of Tourism Industry, Thanes Supharasahasrangsee, is urging Thailand’s Tourism Authority to turn Pattaya, Koh Samet, and Hua Hin into “sandbox” destinations to keep tourism alive from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

        Many small businesses began to reopen as the government declared a “Test & Go” scheme on November 1. Now they are likely to close down again and shut down permanently, according to Thanes.


        • #5
          UPDATE: Talk of Test & Go cutoff date, approved travellers can’t reschedule flights

          UPDATE: At the conclusion of a Cabinet meeting this morning, a spokesperson for the Thai PM noted that Prayut Chan-o-cha supports extending the current suspension of the Test & Go program. The PM also indicated support for a January 10 sunset date for currently approved Thailand Pass applications – those approved before December 21 and for those applications made before December 21 and were since approved.

          In the December announcement the CCSA announced that they would suspend the Test & Go AND Sandbox programs (excepting Phuket) until at least January 4. In the current discussions about extending the suspensions there has not been any mention made of the future of the Phuket Sandbox.

          It will be up to the CCSA to make a final announcement about any of these proposals before they can be treated as ‘official’ but, as PM Prayut heads up the CCSA, and has this morning indicated his support of extending the postponement, and the cut off date of January 10, it is likely to confirmed, in The Thaiger’s opinion.

          We provide this information in good faith and in the interests of the thousands of travellers who will be inconvenienced if further postponements relating to the Thailand Pass go ahead.

          Here are the government’s published ‘hotlines’ for individual enquiries about the Thailand Pass. We’ve had many people sending us messages expressing frustration about getting onto a real person to discuss their issues. We’d also advise anyone trying to get into Thailand at this time to try and contact their local Thai Embassy and keep track of their flights and any changes from their chosen airline.
          • ORIGINAL STORY:
            The Thai government may soon set a cutoff date for travellers entering under the Test & Go quarantine exemption scheme. The Public Health Ministry is proposing that the cutoff date be set to January 10. 2022 The January 10 cutoff was previously discussed and nearly passed by the government last month. The Thai government even released a graphic with the January 10 date, saying that it would be the last day people could enter under the Test & Go scheme. And for those approved to enter, with a Thailand Pass QR code, they will not be able to change their flight or their Thailand Pass, which is required to enter the country, or it will become invalid. In response to the emergence of the Omicron variant in Thailand last month, registration closed for the Test & Go scheme, as well as the sandbox entry programmes, with the exception of the Phuket Sandbox. Those who have applied and been approved to enter under one of the two schemes can still do so. For those who have not registered under the Thailand Pass, the Phuket Sandbox is now the only option for those who do not want to undergo a quarantine period.


          • #6
            Phuket immigration confirms vaccination not needed for extension

            In order to combat rumours swirling online and amongst nervous anti-vax foreigners, the Phuket Immigration Office reassured people that vaccination is not required in order to get an extension of their stay in Thailand. The office in Phuket Town made the announcement via their Facebook page, though they did not address well several other complaints and issues that have been plaguing the office recently.

            The post explained that a visa extension, or visa waiver extension, is open to anyone who qualifies regardless of their vaccination status, whether they are unvaccinated, partially vaccinated, fully vaccinated, or have received one or more booster shots.

            “At this time, evidence of vaccination certificates is not used in consideration of permission for extension of visas. [You] can apply for a visa extension right now.”
            The confirmation about not needing vaccination to get an extension of stay comes after Phuket immigration have made a concerted effort to help people who are in isolation after becoming infected with Covid-19, visiting quarantine hotels to do extensions remotely.

            An officer and Phuket Office explained that they were upgrading their phone system to add additional lines and that is why so many calls to the immigration office have gone unanswered recently. People have been complaining that they have called again and again and have been unable to get through to anybody at the office. The immigration officer suggested that they try messaging via their Facebook page if calls to their only phone number currently – 076-211905 – go unanswered.

            They also responded to customers who are frustrated trying to use the new 90-day reporting app that was launched around Christmas time, though the response was fairly useless. Users complained about a number of issues that prevented them from being able to do their 90-day report online and save themselves a trip to immigration, but the response received was nothing more than a link to where they apply online or download and register the new mobile app and try their luck.