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Thailand ‘Test & Go’ a ‘Go” for Feb. 1; 11 P.M. Booze Returns Jan. 24

Tourists have found much shorter immigration lines at Suvarnabhumi International Airport since the country
Tourists have found much shorter immigration lines at Suvarnabhumi International Airport since the country "reopened" Nov. 1. (Photo: Bangkok Herald)

Thailand’s “Test & Go” tourist-entry scheme will resume Feb. 1 and restaurants can again serve alcohol until 11 p.m. as the country’s health officials again ease coronavirus restrictions.

The Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration on Thursday said that, despite high numbers of new coronavirus cases daily, the omicron variant-fueled outbreak remains under control with relatively low number of hospitalizations and deaths.

Therefore, the CCSA extended the state of emergency for the 16th time – now covering two full years –from Feb. 1 to March 31. It also reduced the number of “orange” coronavirus control zones by 25 to 44, making those provinces “yellow” surveillance zones.

The number of “blue” tourism pilot zones – including Chonburi –remained at eight with parts of 18 other provinces also kept blue. The other tourism pilot provinces are Bangkok, Kanchanaburi, Krabi, Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, Phangnga and Phuket. Parts of Chiang Mai also are blue.

Those blue provinces will once again be able to host foreign tourists entering the country under the “Test & Go” scheme, which was suspended Dec. 21 as the omicron coronavirus variant began its march across Thailand.

The deceptively named program – which requires a lot more than a test to go to Thailand – now requires travelers prebook a government-certified hotel for at least one night, buy two RT-PCR tests to be taken on arrival and Day 5, and obtain US$50,000 in full health insurance.

If the first coronavirus test comes back negative, the tourist is free to check out of the hotel and to any zone, be it blue, orange or yellow.

The 25 “close surveillance” yellow provinces will be Kamphaeng Phet, Chai Nat, Chaiyaphum, Nakhon Phanom, Nakhon Sawan, Narathiwat, Bung Kan, Pattani, Phichit, Phitsanulok, Phetchabun, Phrae, Yala, Lampang, Lamphun, Loei, Sakon Nakhon, Sing Buri, Sukhothai, Suphan Buri, Nong Bua Lam Phu, Ang Thong, Amnat Charoen, Uttaradit and Uthai Thani.

Alcohol can be sold in restaurants in blue and yellow zones until 11 p.m., up from the current 9 p.m. Pending Cabinet and local approvals, the measure takes effect Jan. 24. Restaurants must meet the SHA+ or Thai Stop Covid 2 Plus standards for disease controls and strictly implement “Covid-Free Setting” measures.

The remaining orange zones – except for the blue districts within them – still cannot have alcohol sold in restaurants. Group gatherings are limited to 500 people, versus 1,000 in yellow zones. Both zones can use school buildings, with disease-control measures in place.

Exhibition and convention centers and similar also are limited to 1,000 participants in orange zones, but no limit elsewhere.

Thailand reported 8,129 confirmed cases and 19 deaths on Thursday. Chonburi recorded 445 cases with 161 of those in Banglamung District, which includes Pattaya.