Thailand’s “Test and Go” travel scheme, which enabled vaccinated visitors to visit the country without quarantine, is unlikely to return until the middle of 2022, according to a senior official at the Ministry of Public Health.
The scheme was implemented on November 1 and lasted just a little over a month before it was suspended to curb the spread of the highly transmissible Omicron strain of the coronavirus pandemic.
Now according to a senior official, the scheme is unlikely to return anytime soon as Omicron cases continues to spike throughout the country.
“We cannot reimplement it without adding to the public health burden so the sandbox program will be our only course to bringing in international tourists,” the senior official told Thai Enquirer by phone.
To compensate and try to continue to entice foreign tourists to the country, the government will add more cities to the sandbox program where foreigners can travel freely in a locality for seven days before being allowed to visit the rest of the country.
Pre-approved travelers can still come in
Travelers who were approved for the Test and Go procedure will continue to be able to enter the country via the program until further notice, the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration said on Wednesday.
“The new registration for the Test and Go procedure has been suspended indefinitely and subject to the further assessment of the outbreak,” said Natapanu Nopakun, the deputy spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“Those who have already received their QR codes prior for travelling into Thailand can still do so as per their approved schedule,” he said.
He said the assessment is being done on a daily basis. His statement seems to contradict earlier reports and statements made by the Minister of Public Health which said that January 15 would be the last day for Test and Go registrants.
“This is good news for those who are planning to travel to Thailand next week or in the latter part of January,” Natapanu said.
The CCSA estimated that there are around 10,400 people who were approved for the procedure and still waiting to enter between January 7 and 15.
For those looking to enter the country, they can now register to enter via alternative quarantine hotels with 10 days quarantine period.
The registration for entry through the tourist sandboxes, with seven days quarantine period, in Phuket, Krabi, Phang Nga and Surat Thani (Ko Samui, Ko Pha-ngan and Ko Tao) was also reopened on Wednesday.