The government has stopped approving new applications for Test & Go and Sandbox entries -- other than through the Phuket Sandbox -- but will let those already approved arrive in Thailand as planned, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said on Tuesday.
After chairing a meeting of the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) at Government House, Gen Prayut said the resolution was based on fears of the spread of Omicron and the safety of people in the country.
The prime minister said about 200,000 visitors had applied for entry through the Test & Go and Sandbox schemes, and about 110,000 of them had already arrived.
A further 90,000 have already been approved through the schemes, and they will be allowed into the country. Their health will be monitored after arrival.
"There will be no new approvals for the arrival schemes until the situation is reviewed on Jan 4," Gen Prayut said.
He said officials had assured him that resources would be sufficient and health personnel capable of handling any Omicron outbreak that might result from approved applicants yet to arrive.
"Importantly, although the Omicron variant spreads fast, its symptoms are controllable and treatment is easier," Gen Prayut said.
With the suspension of Test & Go and Sandbox entry options, quarantine would be fully restored for arrivals, he said.
Quarantine periods will last 7 or 10 days depending on country of origin and vaccination status.
The Test & Go entry scheme applies to visitors from specific countries, while the Sandbox scheme is open to all visitors from abroad. All arrivals through the programmes must be fully vaccinated and test negative for Covid-19 shortly before entering the country.
Apart from the decision to suspend the Test & Go and Sandbox entry programmes, the CCSA did not resolve to make any other changes related to the Omicron situation on Tuesday, Gen Prayut said.
Dr Kiatiphum Wongrachit, permanent secretary for public health, said new registration for all Test & Go and Sandbox entries, except the Phuket Sandbox scheme, would be suspended from Dec 21 to Jan 4.
Dr Kiatiphum said that the last group of previously approved arrivals via Test & Go and Sandbox would arrive on Jan 10.
Dr Kiatiphum also said that based on the Covid-19 infection rate of 0.1-0.2% among visitors, health authorities expect about 100 Covid-19 cases among the total 200,000 visitors arriving through the Test & Go and Sandbox entry programmes.