Thailand will resume the 'Test & Go' quarantine waiver for vaccinated arrivals from Feb 1, the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) said on Thursday, in response to slowing coronavirus infections.
The scheme was suspended a month ago after only seven weeks due to the rapid global spread of the Omicron variant and uncertainty about vaccine effectiveness against it.
The policy requires those who enter the country under the programme to test on arrival and again five days later, while agreeing to have their whereabouts tracked, CCSA spokesperson Taweesilp Visanuyothin told a briefing.
They will have to isolate at a hotel while waiting for their test results and will be required to download a tracking app to ensure they comply with the rules.
Seeking to bounce back from the worst economic performance since the 1997 Asian financial crisis, the government launched the Test & Go scheme in November as an alternative to two weeks' hotel quarantine.
The programme was suspended late last month over fears about Omicron, but with deaths and hospitalisations not spiking, Dr Taweesilp said it could resume, though the authorities will keep it under review.
"In case there are more infections or the situation changes, there will be a re-assessment for inbound travellers and adjust toward the Sandbox scheme," he said.
Under the Sandbox programme launched last year as a first step towards resuming tourism, fully jabbed visitors spend seven nights in certain designated locations before being allowed to travel on to the rest of Thailand.
The Sandbox locations are currently Phuket, Koh Samui, Krabi and Phangnga.
The CCSA on Thursday agreed to expand the programme to include popular eastern beach destinations Pattaya and Koh Chang.
In a further relaxation of Covid restrictions, restaurants will be allowed to serve alcohol until 11pm - easing the current 9pm cut-off. Bars and nightclubs will remain closed, however.
The moves are aimed at reviving the tourism sector decimated by the pandemic, with numbers limited by weak global travel demand and rigorous quarantine requirements.
Visitors to Thailand last year were about 0.5% of the pre-pandemic figure, which hit a record of nearly 40 million in 2019.
The Tourism and Sports Ministry estimates that some five million foreign visitors will come to Thailand in 2022.
The country has reported 2.3 million infections and nearly 22,000 coronavirus-related fatalities overall. About two-thirds of residents have been vaccinated and 15% have received a booster.