thailand may resume quarantine requirement to stem spread of omicron - Thailand may resume quarantine requirement to stem spread of Omicron

The Thai Ministry of Public Health will recommend, to the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) at its meeting this week, that it suspends the “Test and Go” program for arrivals from 63 low risk countries and territories and to resume the quarantining of travellers under “alternative quarantine” or “sandbox” programs.

The “Test and Go” program only requires half a day or one day of quarantine for fully vaccinated arrivals from selected low-risk areas while they are awaiting their negative COVID-19 results. It has been in use since Thailand has entered a new phase of “reopening” from November 1st.

“Alternative quarantine” is isolation at government-accredited hotels at the travellers’ own expense, while “sandbox” does not have strict quarantine rules but requires participants to remain in the same province for at least a week before travelling elsewhere.

Director of the Division of Epidemiology at the Disease Control Department Chakkarat Pittayawonganon said today (Tuesday) that the ministry will also propose that the CCSA discourages the Thai public from travelling abroad.

The two measures are precautionary steps to prevent the spread of Omicron variant in Thailand, as the variant is spreading rapidly worldwide.

Under the current “Test and Go” program, travellers must be fully inoculated at least 14 days before their departure for Thailand. They must also show a negative RT-PCR result from a test taken no more than 72 hours before travel. 

Chakkarat said the Ministry of Public Health has instructed agencies under its supervision to provide free antigen tests and vaccinations at all hospitals and major bus terminals during the lead-up to New Year’s Day.

For businesses planning New Year celebrations and eateries serving alcohol, he said that they must strictly comply with the COVID free setting regimen.

Visitors to “sandbox” provinces, which include areas in 17 provinces such as Bangkok, Phuket, Phang-nga, Koh Samui, Koh Pha-Ngan and Koh Tao in Surat Thani and Chon Buri, must be fully inoculated with vaccines approved by the WHO or the Thai Public Health Ministry no less than 14 days before their departure for Thailand. They must also present proof of an RT-PCR negative test result from a test taken no more than 72 hours before arrival.

Upon entry, they must take two COVID tests at different times and stay at hotels which meet the SHA+ standard for at least seven days.