Israel grants Thais quarantine immunity
Israel has granted Thailand "green country" status, allowing those coming from the kingdom to enter without having to undergo a 14-day quarantine.
Israel included Thailand in the list on Aug 30 after being recognised as one of 21 countries which pose minimal risk of coronavirus contagion.
The list will be updated every two weeks.
According to the Israeli Embassy in Thailand, passengers coming from Thailand are not required to self-quarantine prior to their trips. They are not required to submit other documents to board flights, nor an RT-PCR test. They do need to obtain their visa in advance and submit a health declaration before arrival. However, they do not have to notify nor follow their itineraries.
Nevertheless, like all passengers entitled to enter Israel, Thai workers, students and other, will still need to follow the public health guidelines such as wearing face masks at all times, staying at home if they demonstrate any symptoms, and submitting to a Covid-19 test if they exhibit any symptoms or if have been around active cases.
This decision will be especially relevant for Thai workers travelling to Israel to work in the agricultural sector.
A few weeks ago, an initial group of 92 workers departed from Thailand to Israel -- the first since the beginning of the pandemic. Their departure was made possible, despite the global travel restrictions, thanks to close cooperation between the Embassy of Israel and the Israeli Population and Migration Authority to the Royal Thai Embassy in Israel and the Thai Ministry of Labor, the embassy said.
According to the embassy, Israel is facing a second wave of local infections. The authorities are trying to balance the need to enable economic activity and begin the academic year for students, with keeping the public health situation under control and making sure the medical system is not overwhelmed.
Daily tests for Covid number over 30,000 and are revealing just how many people are infected but asymptomatic. All positive cases are required to go into immediate quarantine, it said.
"[Thai workers] act like everyone else. They wear face masks and are sensitive to any symptoms that may occur. In some sense working in the open fields or greenhouses these days is actually much better than working in a closed space, and the potential of infection is relatively low," Israel's ambassador in Thailand Meir Shlomo said.
"At the moment it is usual to fly from Thailand to Israel with connecting flights. Direct flights are not frequent. However there is a demand in Israel for more Thai workers in the agricultural sector and so there is a potential for air operators to offer direct flights such as the upcoming direct flight by Thai Air Asia expected on Sept 30," he said.
More Thai workers clamouring to leave to Israel would increase the frequency of direct flights, he added.
"It will also enable a situation where Israeli tourists can visit Thailand and be exempt from quarantine upon their return to Israel. This move lays the foundations for the eventual return of Israeli tourists to Thailand and could help to make Thailand one of the most attractive destinations for Israeli tourists," he said.