The Thai health minister has confirmed that fully-vaccinated Chinese tourists will not be subject to any new Covid tests or quarantine on arrival. Anutin Chanvirakul said that Chinese visitors won’t be treated any differently from other nationalities in this regard, but they will need an appropriate health insurance policy and proof of their vaccination status. His announcement is subject to confirmation by the Department of Disease Control later today January 5.
The rules for most other nationalities are similar but not precisely the same. Tourists from UK, US, Australia and the European Union are “advised” to take out Covid insurance, but it has not been compulsory now for several months. Pattaya Mail understands there will be no change to current policy, although Thai embassies round the world and Thai immigration do require ongoing health insurance documentation for a few longstay visas, including O/A retirement and the new 10 years Long Stay Residence.
Several airlines do check that passengers are fully vaccinated (minimum two shots) prior to boarding, but Thai airport authorities have not required to see that documentation since last July. The speculation is that paper checks at Thai airports will not become regular lest the queues for entry clearance become unmanageable. Chinese tourists require a 30 days visa-on-arrival and, once charter flights resume, the paperwork with group insurance is likely to be prepared in advance by the Chinese tour operator to prevent chaos at Thai airports.
Several countries have introduced for Chinese travellers the need for a clinical covid test 48 hours or less in advance of the flight. It is clear that Thai authorities at this stage are not following that trend for arrivals from any country. Instead, they will rely on passenger monitoring and examination of wastewater from aircraft tanks to detect the virus. Thai citizens and foreign arrivals are being advised to take booster shots, although it is not clear that large stocks are currently available in Thai private or public hospitals nationwide.
In Bangkok, Department of Disease Control is apparently hoping that mass tourism from China to Thailand will initially be a slow-moving phenomenon. It will take time to organize charter flights to fit in with Thai airports’ schedules, whilst Beijing authorities have not issued passports since the covid pandemic began leading to many renewals waiting to be processed. Director general Tares Krassanairawiwong said that covid-19 variant strains were similar in China and Thailand, but a new Bangkok-based monitoring center would ensure the public remains safe. Optimistic policies could change swiftly if the prediction of pessimists that Thailand will soon be welcoming a large disease spread as well as paying customers proves to be true.