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COVID-19 updates: Thailand and Antigua/Barbuda loosen restrictions and CDC relaxes cruise guidelines

March 20, 2022
5 min read
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Popular vacation destinations are continuing to loosen their COVID-19 protocols as many people are making spring and summer travel plans. While we continue to track the latest changes around the world in our country-by-country guide to coronavirus reopenings, below are the latest changes announced.

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Thailand easing pre-travel testing requirements

Thailand is making a key change to the protocols for its three schemes for entering the country. Visitors entering Thailand under the Test & Go, Sandbox and Alternative Quarantine programs will no longer have to present a pre-travel negative COVID-19 test.

The changes, announced by Thailand’s Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration, take effect April 1.

It’s important to note that visitors will still have to undergo testing after arriving in the country, but this newest development does eliminate the pre-travel test requirement.

For both the Test & Go and Sandbox schemes, visitors (who must be vaccinated) will have to undergo a PCR test upon arrival to Thailand. Then travelers will be expected to complete an antigen self-test five days after arrival.

Wat Chaiwatthanaram, Ayutthaya, Thailand. (Photo by SOMPOP SRINOPHAN/Getty Images)

Thailand’s Test & Go scheme involves testing and then spending a night in a government-approved hotel while awaiting the result, and then testing again five days later.

The Sandbox program allows visitors to roam freely in certain designated regions for a period of time, before being allowed to travel throughout Thailand. As part of the changes, the time in the "sandbox" will be reduced from seven days to five, beginning April 1.

Related: Planning a trip to Thailand

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Thailand is also opening an eighth airport to international arrivals. Beginning April 1, international flights can arrive at Hat Yai International Airport (HDY) in the Songkhla Province.

The relaxed requirements come even as the CDC continues to caution about travel to Thailand. In its guidance on March 7, the CDC placed Thailand at “Level 4” on its travel health notice, which said: “Avoid travel to Thailand. If you must travel to Thailand, make sure you are vaccinated and up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines before travel.”

In its announcement about the changes, the Tourism Authority of Thailand said these modifications are taking effect “as the kingdom prepares a four-step phase plan to downgrade the COVID-19 pandemic to an endemic disease.”

Antigua and Barbuda lifting COVID-19 restrictions

There’s been more good news in recent days for travelers hoping to vacation to the Caribbean. The twin island nation of Antigua and Barbuda announced late last week, it will lift testing requirements for fully vaccinated visitors.

Related: Aruba drops all restrictions

The changes, announced Thursday, took effect immediately. Previously, visitors had to present a negative test result regardless of vaccination status.

The Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority said this will reduce costs for travelers, and may prove to be a compelling incentive for fully vaccinated visitors to book travel to the country. The organization said it hopes this will help tourism rebound.

Royalton Antigua Resort & Spa (Photo courtesy of Marriott)

Leaders declared the nation “fully open” as part of the announcement.

“Our aim is to continue to ensure travelers have a safe vacation in Antigua and Barbuda, in adherence with the COVID-19 protocols created by the Government to responsibly manage the various stages of the pandemic and maintain the health and safety of the population,” Antigua and Barbuda’s minister of tourism and investment Charles Fernandez said in a statement.

Fully vaccinated passengers who do show potential COVID-19 symptoms upon arrival may be required to submit a test at their own expense.

Changes to some cruise protocols 

The CDC also quietly made some changes on Friday to its technical instructions for cruise ships operating within its COVID-19 program.

They are not major, sweeping changes, but could certainly have an impact on your experience while on board or if you were exposed to COVID-19 on your trip.

Cruise ship operators can now resume interactive experiences. According to Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), the change means ship operators can host experiences like galley tours and cooking classes.

Related: Will I need a COVID-19 Vaccine to Cruise?

The other change by the CDC allows passengers who came in contact with someone who has COVID-19 to quarantine in their own cabin, with two caveats: they must be the only person in their cabin and the ship must be within 36 hours of disembarkment.

CLIA called these modifications by the CDC, “welcome changes."

The new guidance comes days after the CDC also lowered its travel health notice for cruise ships from "Level 3: High" to "Level 2: Moderate." This means the CDC advises travelers going on a cruise be up to date on COVID-19 vaccines before the trip, and to avoid travel only if they are at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

(Photo by Jonathan Knowles/Getty Images)

Bottom line

While some countries, territories and industries are shedding COVID-19 restrictions more quickly than others, there continues to be a noticeable shift toward fewer requirements. As you plan international travel, be sure to keep a close eye on the rules as protocols continue to change daily.

Featured image by Getty Images/iStockphoto
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
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10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
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The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

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  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023