As nearly everyone in the country and many outside of it wait for the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration to finally lay-out the details of what fully vaccinated tourists need to have and do in order to enter a “reopened” Thailand Nov. 1, the Public Health Ministry released its own, unofficial, “conditions”.
The ministry’s guidelines mean nothing other than a recommendation. No mater how much Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul would like to be the arbiter of reopening rules, it’s up to the CCSA to write the rules and Anutin doesn’t get a vote there. They then must be rubber-stamped by the Cabinet and published in the Royal Gazette before they become official.
Thailand has only 11 days to pull its head out and get the rules published.
The ministry’s conditions, outlined Wednesday by the Bureau of Risk Communication and Health Behavior Promotion in the ministry’s Disease Control Department, says that tourists arriving starting Nov. 1 must be from countries specified ministry as being “low risk” for coronavirus transmission, and arrive by air.
That list has not been released yet by the CCSA.
As outlined by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha earlier, tourists also must be fully vaccinated and have negative Covid-19 results from an RT-PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to arrival in Thailand. No surprises there.
The next items on the list are notable, however. Instead of the current requirement of having US$100,000 in Covid-19 insurance, the MoPH’s conditions require only $50,000.
The ministry says a visitor must have “written or electronic confirmation of hotel bookings in Thailand” before arrival. The ministry did not specify, however, how many days must be booked or if it must be in a pricey “SHA+ certified” hotel.
Also of note, the conditions require another RT-PCR test within 24 hours of arrival in Thailand. That leaves open the possibility a test need not be done at the airport or a “swab hub” off of airport grounds but run by hotels.
Visitors also will be required to download and install a tracking app upon arrival. How long that app must be kept installed was not specified.
Because the MoPH’s conditions are not enforceable, everyone counting down the days until November continue to await anxiously the CCSA’s detailed plan. Widespread speculation had it that the agency would hold a meeting and briefing on Oct. 20, but Wednesday came and went without a hint of any confab or presser.
CCSA operations director Gen. Supot Malaniyom told the media on Sunday that details of the plan to reopen the country would be announced within one or two days. He obviously was not in the know.
He had assured the public that the plan will not be “left until the last minute” as all CCSA plan changes have been, even for the start of the Phuket “sandbox”. Tourism groups and companies have been very vocal in the past week that they need time to plan and won’t appreciate another last-minute unveiling.