Chinese tourists still face entry ban

Chinese tourists still face entry ban

The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) has dismissed reports Chinese tourists will be allowed to visit Thailand again next month.

This will not be possible because the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) on April 27 decided to extend the ban on all incoming commercial flights for another month -- until May 31 -- over coronavirus concerns, CCSA spokesman Taweesilp Visanuyothin said on Wednesday.

"Foreign visitors cannot visit right now," he said. "We have to take care of our own people first. Tourism will be discussed later. Don't worry."

Thailand ranked among the top tourist destinations for Chinese visitors before the Covid-19 pandemic dealt a serious blow to tourism, with a ban imposed on incoming flights to prevent infections from abroad.

The aviation regulator announced the extension ahead of the scheduled expiry date today, on the grounds that the situation was worsening. The ban was also in support of the CCSA battle to control the pandemic in Thailand, it said.

The announcement did not explain why the CAAT believes the situation is getting worse, with many countries now looking to relax some restrictions.

The flight ban exempts military aircraft and aircraft making emergency landings or technical landings without disembarkation. It also spares humanitarian aid, medical and relief flights as well as repatriation and cargo flights.

Dr Taweesilp also said on Wednesday a total of 189 Thais stranded in India returned to Thailand on Wednesday.

Today 15 Thais will arrive back from Russia, 40 will return from Sri Lanka and the Maldives, and 170 will come back from India, he said.

Between April 4-28, a total of 2,981 Thais returned home from 22 countries.

Meanwhile, Don Mueang International Airport general manager Sumpun Kutranon said many people are expected to travel to the provinces on low-cost airlines during the long weekend starting on Labour Day on Friday, when limited domestic flights will resume.

From Friday, about 3,000 people are expected to arrive at the airport per day as about 90 daily domestic flights will resume, Flg Off Sumpun said.

Currently, travel by other modes of transport is forbidden by restrictions under the state of emergency. Strict measures will be in place to screen people entering the airport.

The CCSA on Wednesday reported nine new coronavirus cases, raising the nationwide total to 2,947, with no new deaths.

There were four new cases in Phuket, three in Bangkok and two in Samut Prakan.

"The number of new cases has been below 10 for three days in a row. All Thai people deserve praise for this united fight," Dr Taweesilp said.

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