Thailand Suspends Quarantine-Free Entry Scheme

Applications for the Test & Go program will no longer be accepted until at least January 4 due to fears over the spread of the Omicron variant.

Sunrise over the isthmus on Koh Phi Phi Don, Thailand. (Photo: Evan Krause/Unsplash)

Thailand is reintroducing mandatory quarantines for international arrivals, with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha announcing a halt to the issuance of Thailand Passes for most of the country’s entry programs from Wednesday. The top official cited the safety of the Thai public and concerns about the Omicron variant as the main reasons behind the decision.

For the time being, it is no longer possible to apply for the Test & Go and various Sandbox schemes, with the exception of the Phuket Sandbox. Those who are not eligible to enter via Phuket must go through the Alternative Quarantine arrangement, which involves spending seven or 10 days in a hotel room depending on one’s country of origin and vaccination status.

According to the Prime Minister, around 200,000 travelers have so far been granted approval to visit, and 110,000 of those tourists have already arrived. The remaining 90,000 who received their Thailand Pass QR Code will still be allowed to enter the country, and the last group is expected to land on January 10. Would-be visitors who have registered but not yet received their Thailand Pass face a nail-biting wait, as they might still be granted quarantine-free access should their application be approved.

Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has clarified that tourists with prior approval can enter the country under the scheme they had registered for without needing to self-isolate. The only confirmed change to visitors coming in via the Test & Go arrangement is the nature of the Covid-19 test required shortly after arrival: instead of a self-administered rapid antigen test, travelers must undergo PCR tests at a government-designated facility at no extra cost. The overall situation will be reviewed on January 4, and officials will reveal the next steps on that date.

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