Thailand brings back mandatory quarantine for travelers, but it won't ruin Christmas for all vacationers
All new visitors to Thailand will now have to quarantine for a minimum of seven days whether they’ve been vaccinated or not, Reuters reported.
The new rules come after Thai authorities confirmed its first case of the omicron variant on Dec. 20.
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Previously, vacationers arriving in the Southeast Asian country simply had to take a negative test on arrival as part of the “Test and Go” waiver, a scheme introduced last month in a desperate bid to breathe life back into a tourism industry crippled by the pandemic.
But as the omicron variant continues to run rampant across the globe, the Thai government has decided to scrap the scheme just two months after its launch, instead, making anyone not already signed up for the scheme to quarantine for between seven and 10 days, from as soon as they step off their flight.
They will also have to take regular PCR tests during their stay.
However, there was good news for the 200,000 ticket holders who have already signed up for either of these schemes: they will still be eligible.
“This is not to shut off tourists but to temporarily suspend arrivals,” officials added.
"As of Dec. 22, the Thailand Pass website will be closed for all new Test and Go and Sandbox applications, except for the Phuket Sandbox,” reads the Foreign Office website. "If you have already received your Thailand Pass QR code, you can still enter Thailand under the scheme you registered for."
It is, however, another blow to many winter sun-seekers planning trips. Officials also paused the so-called “sandbox” scheme, which had allowed visitors to roam an area freely so long as they remained within the vicinity of their accommodation.
Now, the sandbox scheme remains only on the party island of Phuket, where it was originally piloted.
The news comes days after British Airways suspended all direct flights to Bangkok until October 2022 as part of a pandemic-inflicted “reduced and dynamic schedule."