The Test & Go travel scheme for foreign arrivals and RT-PCR testing upon arrival will end this month as vaccinated travellers will only need to take self-antigen tests during their stay from May 1 as part of a further easing of entry rules to boost the economy and tourism.
However, the Thailand Pass registration will be retained. The change was approved at a meeting of the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) on Friday.
"Test & Go will be scrapped and there will be a shift to antigen testing on May 1. This will be more convenient and faster for visitors. Tourism is also starting to recover,'' Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said after chairing the meeting at Government House.
"Many countries are easing travel restrictions significantly and our country depends considerably on tourism to support our economy," Gen Prayut said.
He also said the government will consider the possibility of the "Two Countries, One Destination" tourism project to promote tourism between Thailand and other countries.
With the easing of travel regulations, he confirmed that Thailand will fully reopen to foreign visitors from May 1.
However, Gen Prayut said the meeting did not discuss a downgrade of the Covid-19 pandemic to endemic status. The matter will be considered again later.
CCSA spokesman Taweesilp Visanuyothin said that from May 1 there will be no Test & Go entry scheme. The government will devise different measures for vaccinated and unvaccinated foreign arrivals by air.
Vaccinated visitors will not be tested for Covid-19 upon arrival anymore. It will be recommended they self-test using antigen kits during their stay. Vaccinated travellers must register for entry via Thailand Pass and present proof of vaccination.
If they test positive, they could enter their Covid-19 insurance process or take care of their own treatment, he said. Unvaccinated travellers will be welcomed if they present proof of a negative RT-PCR test no more than 72 hours before their trip and register via Thailand Pass.
They will be quarantined for five days, with another RT-PCR test on day 4-5. They will also be advised to do self-antigen testing during their stay.
High-risk visitors will be quarantined for five days. The minimum Covid-19 insurance coverage for all foreign arrivals will be US$10,000. The compulsory tests under the Test & Go entry scheme could be lifted because figures showed a very low infection rate among foreign arrivals, only 0.46%, through Test & Go this month, Dr Taweesilp said.
For arrivals by land, foreign visitors who intend to stay no longer than three days must be fully vaccinated and pass self-antigen tests.
Otherwise, they cannot enter the country. For visitors who intend to stay longer, fully vaccinated travellers will not be quarantined if they pass antigen tests, while those who are unvaccinated would be quarantined for five days.
Sanan Angubolkul, chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, yesterday welcomed the CCSA's decision to scrap the RT-PCR testing upon arrival, saying the government has responded to calls from business operators.
Thailand logged 21,808 confirmed new cases of Covid-19 and 128 more coronavirus-related fatalities over the past 24 hours, the Public Health Ministry said on Thursday.