The Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA)in Thailand has agreed to resume registration for the currently suspended quarantine-free entry program, known as “Test and Go”, from February 1st. It will also allow eateries in “sandbox” provinces and COVID-19 “high surveillance” provinces to serve alcohol up to 11pm, instead of 9 pm, from January 24th onwards according to CCSA spokesman Dr. Taweesin Visanuyothin.
However, to open, the eateries must meet the SHA Plus or the Stop COVID 2 Plus standard and comply with the COVID Free Setting measure. Pubs, bars and other entertainment venues are to remain closed, but they are allowed to open as eateries and when they meet such requirements.
The suspension of Test and Go’ s “Thailand Pass” issuances in place since December 22th was meant to slow down the spread of Omicron variant, while those who have already been granted the passes can still enter the kingdom.
The resumption of the programme will be slightly stricter than before as it would require the arrivals to undertake 2 RT-PCR COVID-19 tests within the first week, instead of one, on the first and fifth days. The tests and the certified (SHA++ AQ or AHQ) accommodations for the first and fifth days have to be pre-booked. Their insurance coverage will have to be at least US$50,000, except for people whose health insurances are covered by their employers or fall under Thailand’s subsidised healthcare system. Negative results of RT-PCR tests taken no more than 72 hours before departure and proof of at least two shots of vaccination must also be provided.
The CCSA also decided to extend the emergency decree, imposed since March 2020, for two more months until end of March 2022, saying the law helps maintain COVID-19 measures.
Other measures adopted by the CCSA today include a reduction in the number of COVID-19 “controlled” provinces, from 69 to 44, whereas the “sandbox” provinces remain as Bangkok, Kanchanaburi, Chon Buri, Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, Phang-nga and Phuket, as well as some other areas in 18 provinces including Surat Thani (only on Koh Samui, Koh Pha Ngan and Koh Tao).
The number of COVID-19 of “high surveillance” provinces, of which measures are slightly more lenient, has been increased from zero to 25. These adjustments will take effect on January 24th. In controlled provinces, gatherings of up to 500 people will be permitted. In “high surveillance” provinces, the limit is 1,000.
For schools in those two provincial categories, Dr. Taweesin said that on-site classes have already resumed at more than 17,000 schools, but there are still several tens of thousands which are yet to resume classes due to problems over enforcing social distancing among the students in classrooms.
He said that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha wants students to return to their schools and has instructed the CCSA and the Ministry of Education to develop a workable solution, which includes the use of antigen tests and whether the students should be allowed to remove their face masks.
Regarding the work from home voluntary measure, which is due to expire on January 31st, the CCSA has decided not to extend the measure, as the COVID-19 situation has been improving, and it will allow each state agency to decide whether to extend the measure.