World

Thailand plans to reopen to vaccinated visitors from November: PM

Oct 12, 2021

Bangkok (Thailand), October 12: Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha announced Monday a plan to allow fully-vaccinated visitors from "low risk" countries and regions to enter the Southeast Asian country without quarantine from next month.
"I have instructed the Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) and the Ministry of Public Health to urgently consider within this week to allow, as of Nov. 1, international visitors to enter Thailand without any requirement for quarantine if they are fully vaccinated and arrive by air from low-risk countries," Prayut said via a televised address.
The list will initially include at least 10 countries and regions, such as Britain, Singapore, Germany, China and the United States, Prayut said. It is expected to be finalized later this week by the CCSA.
Prayut said that visitors from countries and regions not on the list are welcomed, but have to undergo quarantine.
The low-risk and quarantine-free list will be extended by December 1 and moved to "a very extensive list" by Jan. 1, 2022, he said.
Before the pandemic, Thailand attracted a peak of nearly 40 million tourists in 2019, with tourism sector accounting for about one-fifth of its economy.
COVID-19 has forced the country to implement strict border control and left the economy battered, recording its worst performance in more than two decades last year. The number of tourist arrivals plunged to 6.7 million in 2020.
"We have been among the most successful countries in the world in saving lives. But it has come at very great sacrifices of lost livelihoods, lost savings and destroyed businesses," Prayut said.
To support tourism and boost growth, Prayut announced in June this year that Thailand planned to fully reopen to international travelers within 120 days. The government has been trying to accelerate vaccination roll-out to build a herd immunity.
As a pilot, from July 1, the country allowed fully-vaccinated foreign visitors to enter its resort island Phuket without quarantine.
In the late Monday speech, Prayut said the decision might come with risk of rising infections, but "I do not think the many millions who depend on the income generated by the travel, leisure and entertainment sector can possibly afford the devastating blow of a second lost new year holiday period."
"The time has come for us to ... live with it," he said.
On Monday, Thailand reported 10,035 new COVID-19 cases and 60 more deaths, raising the total number of infections to more than 1.72 million while that of fatalities to 17,751, according to the CCSA.
As of Sunday, the country has administered more than 60 million doses of vaccines, with more than 30 percent of its people having been fully vaccinated.
Source: Xinhua

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