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‘Test & Go’ Set for Feb. 1 Restart, But Bars to Remain Closed

Thailand’s “Test & Go” tourist-entry program is set to resume Feb. 1, only six weeks after the minimal-quarantine scheme was suspended due to the omicron coronavirus variant scaring the government into crippling its tourism industry again.

The country’s bars and nightclubs won’t be reopening next month, however.

The Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration this week will consider a number of proposals to Covid-19 restrictions after the former generals finally heard what the rest of the world was already saying: Omicron was nothing to panic over.

Thailand on Tuesday reported 6,397 confirmed coronavirus cases with 18 deaths. On Monday, new cases totaled 6,929 with 13 deaths.

Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said Monday that while omicron remains highly contagious, it has not produced the number of hospitalizations and deaths experienced during the delta-variant outbreak and that the latest wave remains “under control”.

Anutin said he will ask the CCSA to resume Test & Go, as he believes the program’s quarantine and testing safeguards are “medically sound” and the scheme can be operated safely.

While the number of international tourists testing positive for Covid-19, principally with omicron, have increased tenfold – to 3% of arrivals compared with 0.3% before December – Anutin acknowledged that the benefits of the increased tourism on people’s businesses and lives outweigh omicron’s risk.

The deceptively named “Test & Go” policy allows visitors to spend only a single night in quarantine while they await the results of an RT-PCR coronavirus test. The CCSA is likely to modify the program, however, to require two tests – one on arrival and the other on Day 7.

Apparently, the conservative, anti-alcohol blowhard minister doesn’t care as much about Thais working in the entertainment industry, as he said there were no plans to allow the full reopening of bars, clubs and nightlife venues.

While most bars already have reopened as “restaurants” – including go-go and beer bars without kitchens – the legal go-ahead for all venues was scheduled for Jan. 16. That was delayed by the CCSA indefinitely.