Many stranded by drastic measures
Thai nationals in the United States and Sweden are crying foul after the government launched draconian measures requiring all travellers to obtain fit-to-fly health certificates before boarding flights back home.
Suvapol Poosenphong said he is not able to get a health certificate necessary for returning to Thailand in time.
"I need to leave the US on Sunday, but many hospitals and clinics can't issue the document today [yesterday]. Even the Royal Thai Consulate-General in Los Angeles can't tell me precisely where I can obtain the document," he said.
Mr Suvapol said his trip was planned three months in advance, well before the arrival of the Covid-19 infection in the US.
"I asked Thai authorities to provide full details of what to do and how we can fly back to Thailand. Many Thais are facing the problem. Tomorrow [today], I will try for the document again and if I don't get it, I will take a chance at the airport," he said.
Another Thai in Sweden, who asked not to be named, slammed the government for announcing the regulation on Thursday and enforcing it from tomorrow.
"I was able to make an appointment at a local clinic on March 30 before my departure the next day. But the embassy requires that the health certificate be acquired at least 60 hours prior to departure. I worry that I will not be allowed to board my flight, and will not be refunded because it will be my fault that I don't have the document," she said.
A 50-year-old father, whose daughter is scheduled to fly in from the US, said Thai embassies should clearly inform airlines and announce in English that those flying from the US before 1pm local time on Saturday do not require such certifications.
He said he called several foreign airlines and learned that they thought the rule had gone into effect on Thursday.
Meanwhile, the Thai embassy in Washington has advised Thais to get fit-to-fly certificates by using the services offered on www.zocdoc.com and www.passporthealthusa.com.
The mission in London has advised Thai travellers to use the QueQ smartphone app to book their queue number for picking up a fit-to-fly certification and letters at the embassy.
Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob said the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) put these measures in place to ensure people entering Thailand are not infected and will not spread the disease. "We aren't blocking their entry," he said.
"The PM ordered the CAAT to come up with the regulations in line with the outbreak situation, which is not 'very critical' given the number of infections," he said.