Prime Minister says all travel bubble arrangements now on hold after Rayong scandal

The Thai government will reassess its current guidelines to allow specific groups of foreigners to enter Thailand, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha said after the cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

His comments came after administrative mistakes made by the Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) led to a possible coronavirus outbreak in the general public in Bangkok and Rayong despite there being no COVID cases outside of state quarantine in the previous two months.

The cases involve two foreign delegations from Egypt and Sudan who were allowed to enter Thailand without entering 14 days mandatory quarantine.

The current guidelines allow government officials among other groups to enter Thailand without passing through state quarantine.

The prime minister said that all of these measures will now be reassessed while previous arrangements will be put on hold.

“Our preventive measures and healthcare system should be able to cope [with possible outbreaks] but this is something that should not happen,” he said.

“I am saddened and I would like to apologise to all Thai people,” he added. 

The PM said the CCSA will have to monitor and assess the latest possible outbreak situation first before the government can consider the possibility of allowing tourists to reenter Thailand.

“I have instructed tourism agencies to look at the possibility [for allowing tourists to enter Thailand] but the approval will be based on the outbreak situation in and outside the country first,” he said.

“We will not rush through this because there will be more problems when a lot of people are going to come in, especially from the ones that do not keep discipline and respect the rules,” he added.

The CCSA has earlier said that Thailand was in negotiations with five countries in regards to a travel bubble.

Cabinet approval for this week

  • The toll fees for two motorways including from Bangkok to Pattaya (Motorway 7) and the outer ring (Motorway 9) will be exempted from July 24 to July 29 to support the long holiday period.
  • The Neighboring Countries Economic Development Cooperation Agency (NEDA)’s measure for the Thailand to provide concessional loan worth 1.46 billion baht to Myanmar as financial help for its electricity projects in North Okkalapa and North Dagon. The loan will come from NEDA’s fiscal budget worth 729 billion baht and another 729 billion baht from financial institutions in Thailand.
  • A budget worth 372 million baht for measures to control palm oil stock as the demand of diesel is expected to decline by 8.2 per cent from 67 million liters per day to around 61-62 million liters per day in 2020.

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