Songkran figures to determine future easing of travel restrictions

Songkran figures to determine future easing of travel restrictions

A worker sprays disinfectant on buses on Thursday, before the exodus out of Bangkok for the Songkran holiday next week. (Photo: Nutthawat Wicheanbut)
A worker sprays disinfectant on buses on Thursday, before the exodus out of Bangkok for the Songkran holiday next week. (Photo: Nutthawat Wicheanbut)

Further easing of travel restrictions to help the struggling tourism sector will depend on an evaluation of the Covid-19 situation after the Songkran holiday next week.

Taweesilp Visanuyothin, spokesman for the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration, said a meeting of the CCSA on Friday agreed in principle on the need for friendlier measures, to attract tourists.

When this would happen rested on the number of new infections after the Thai New Year break.

Dr Taweesilp said the CCSA "agreed in principle but did not approve" measures tentatively set for May that were tabled at the meeting.

The spokesman said Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, who chaired the meeting, wanted to evaluate the infection situation after the long break. "The prime minister wants to see the (Covid) figures after Songkran," he said.

The rate of new infections from tourists entering Thailand from the beginning of this month would also be taken into consideration.

Restrictions have been gradually eased since November last year, to help the tourism sector. The government last week lifted the requirement for a pre-travel RT-PRC test for arriving air travellers, from April 1. They are still subject to an RT-PCR test on arrival. 

About 470,000 foreign tourists arrived in the first quarter of this year, surpassing the total number last year, 420,000, according to the CCSA.

The spokesman admitted existing measures did not allow Thailand to compete with other countries which also relied on spending by foreign tourists.

Dr Taweesilp said the next full-member meeting of the CCSA after Songkran would decide the date when more restrictions could be lifted.

The changes tentatively planned for next month included requiring fewer documents to register for Thailand Pass, a shorter quarantine period and a reduction of the health insurance cover requirement from US$20,000.

The date for the meeting had not been set, he said.

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