Officials in Thailand say fully vaccinated travelers from 10 low-risk countries, including the UK, China, Germany and the U.S., will be exempted from COVID-19 quarantine requirements beginning 1st November.
“This decision comes with some risks,” said Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, but it is considered a key step to reviving the country’s tourism sector, as reported by the BBC.
Some 33 percent of Thailand’s almost 70 million people are fully vaccinated, and half have received at least one vaccine dose. Since July, the country has reported more than 10,000 new cases per day.
Entertainment venues can also reopen on 1st December and alcohol can be sold, Prayuth added, noting that national authorities are planning to add more countries to its low-risk list.
“When they arrive, they should present a negative COVID-19 test and test once again upon arrival. If the second test is also negative, any visitor from those countries can travel freely, like Thais,” Prayuth said in a televised address on Monday, in reference to tourists from low-risk countries.
But he stressed that the government would act quickly if a new COVID-19 variant emerges and causes a surge in new infections.
In 2020, Thailand, which is a popular tourist destination due to its beaches and nightlife, is thought to have lost some $50 billion in tourism income, with its economy suffering its worst contraction in more than two decades.
In the first eight months of 2021, just over 70,000 tourists visited the country, compared with 40 million in 2019.
According to Johns Hopkins University, more than 1.7 million COVID-19 cases were recorded in Thailand since the pandemic began, along with some 18,000 deaths.