Thailand technically will lift its ban on international flights on Wednesday, but little actually will change.
For all intents and purposes, Thailand’s air borders will remain closed, as only small numbers of select groups of travelers will be permitted to enter the kingdom.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand on Monday evening released the officials governing which types of flights and which type of passengers can land at its international gateways. None allow for general tourism.
Plane-wise, the CAAT will allow state or military aircraft, planes facing flight emergencies or technical problems, cargo aircraft, humanitarian-aid flights and repatriation flights carrying Thais home.
As for passengers, only citizens of Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, China and Hong Kong who fall into one of the following categories will be allowed in:
- Spouses and children of those who have work permits or who are allowed to work in Thailand by a government agency
- Documented expatriates
- Foreign spouses and legitimate children of Thai citizens and foreigners who are married
- Foreigners seeking medical treatment in Thailand, excluding treatment for COVID-19
- Foreign students and their parents with student visas.
- Non-Thais who are allowed into the country under other special arrangements
A total 50,000 people from across those groups have preregistered to arrive in Thailand, said Center for Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration spokesman Dr. Taweesin Visanuyothin. That will be a long, slow line.
Taweesin only about 200 people total – less than two full flights worth of passengers – would be allowed entry into Thailand per day. At that rate it would take eight months to deplete the line. Obviously, the process will have to be accelerated at some point.
In addition, all the limited entries will have to submit to “alternative stage quarantine”, which is government-speak for paying for a two-week stay at an expensive resort. Package prices for the quarantine packages start at 45,000 baht and can reach 150,000 baht.
Once they are here and finally emerge from quarantine, all the foreigners will face limits on where they can travel inside the country.
Taweesin said the CCSN chose the five countries to start with because of their economic importance to Thailand, ability to contain coronavirus, their efficient public health systems and their readiness to conclude “travel bubble” tourism deals with Thailand.
Thailand has perverted the rest of the world’s idea of “travel bubbles”, however, by requiring lengthy quarantines.