Tourism group asks government to reconsider scrapping Test and Go; opposition MP urges compensation

Tourism operators are urging the government to reconsider its quarantine policy and avoid another nationwide lockdown.

The government temporarily halted the one-night quarantine procedure called the Test and Go program for overseas tourists in a bid to prevent the spread of Omicron.

But tourist groups worry that the move could spell economic doom for many of their members who have already been hard hit by the pandemic.

“We are afraid of another lockdown,” said Arisara Yurnyong, a representative of the Covid Affected Operators Association.

“The policy to shut down the country already cost the country trillions of baht and it should be reconsidered before another mistake is made,” she said.

The group, which consists of tourism operators and event organizers that have been affected by lockdowns since 2020, have staged sporadic protests in front of the Government House and the Tourism Authority of Thailand since the move was announced and they were back at it this week.

Arisara said the country has already administered more than 100 million Covid vaccine doses but there are still thousands of new cases every day so the government’s new quarantine should reflect the idea of living with Covid instead of closing down the borders.

“Some operators have used their last savings to reopen ahead of the New Year season and if the Test and Go is replaced by the 14-day quarantine period again, tourists will not want to come and these operators will not survive,” she said.

Taopiphop “Tao” Limjittakorn, an MP for the Move Forward Party who used to be a tour guide told Thai Enquirer that SMEs such as travel agencies within the tourism industry have yet to be properly compensated even though they are one of the hardest hit sectors.

“It has been two years of disruption and there is still not enough compensation for this group of businesses,” he told Thai Enquirer by phone.

“The big concern is for businesses that are now facing the end of their businesses because of the changes in policies,” he said.

He said that since Omicron is already spreading within the population, there is no need for stricter entry regulations and he urged the government to prioritize its proactive testing policy to identify clusters instead.  

“We are concentrating on testing at our doors when we should be conducting more tests inside the house and administering more booster shots,” he said.

Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said on Monday that the government will reconsider its quarantine policy on January 4.


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