Ministry proposes shorter quarantine from next month

Ministry proposes shorter quarantine from next month

A staff member of the Mövenpick BDMS Wellness Resort Bangkok on Witthayu Road, wearing a face shield over a face mask and a pair of gloves, waits for Department of Health officials to begin an inspection early this month to assess whether the hotel can be an alternative Covid-19 quarantine facility. (Photo: Arnun Chonmahatrakool)
A staff member of the Mövenpick BDMS Wellness Resort Bangkok on Witthayu Road, wearing a face shield over a face mask and a pair of gloves, waits for Department of Health officials to begin an inspection early this month to assess whether the hotel can be an alternative Covid-19 quarantine facility. (Photo: Arnun Chonmahatrakool)

The Public Health Ministry is to ask the government to consider reducing the length of mandatory quarantine for incoming travellers from 14 days to 7-10 days, from next month.

The plan was announced on Monday by Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, in his capacity as chairman of the National Committee on Communicable Diseases.

Mr Anutin said the ministry would ask the government to cut the length of mandatory quarantine in order to help stimulate tourism and give the economy a boost.

"We are prepared to open the country to help drive economic growth," he said after the committee met on Monday.

"If we can administer vaccines to 70% of all medical workers by October, we may consider abolishing mandatory quarantine requirements for some groups.

"We have enough vaccines from AstraZeneca, and we are planning to get 10 million more doses from them, if they can produce more for us."

If approved, shorter quarantine requirements will apply to travellers who fall into the following three categories, starting in April, he said.

The first are non-Thai citizens who were vaccinated against Covid-19 between 14 days to three months before their arrival in Thailand and have tested negative for the disease. These travellers, Mr Anutin said, will only be required to quarantine for seven days.

The second are Thai returnees who have been vaccinated against Covid-19 between 14-days to three months before their arrival in Thailand. These travellers, he said, will also be required to stay in quarantine for seven days.

Third, Mr Anutin said, are non-Thai citizens who have not been vaccinated but possess Covid-19-free certificates. These travellers will be required to stay in quarantine for 10 days, he said.

These shortened quarantine requirements won't apply to travellers arriving from Africa, who will still be required to observe the full 14-day quarantine, as the Public Health Ministry is concerned about the possibility of more contagious Covid-19 variants from the continent spreading in Thailand.

On a separate note, the public health minister insisted that the government never had any intention to block private hospitals from providing Covid-19 vaccines to paying patients.

"But they must comply with guidelines on vaccine registration," Mr Anutin said.

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