Thailand to reopen to vaccinated tourists from Nov 1

BANGKOK: Thailand plans to fully reopen to vaccinated tourists travelling by air from countries deemed low-risk for Covid-19 from Nov 1, Premier Prayut Chan-o-cha said yesterday.

The 10 countries in the list now includes Singapore.

Before the pandemic, the kingdom attracted nearly 40 million visitors a year drawn to its picturesque beaches and vibrant nightlife, with tourism making up almost 20 per cent of its national income.

But pandemic travel restrictions have left the economy battered, contributing to its worst performance in more than 20 years.

Mr Prayut announced in a televised address the country will be reopening its borders to vaccinated tourists travelling by air from "low-risk countries".

The 10 nations considered low risk also include Britain, the United States, China and Germany.

"When they arrive, they should present a (negative) Covid test... and test once again upon arrival," the prime minister said.

After getting a negative test, "they can travel freely like Thais", he said.

His announcement significantly loosens up current restrictions in place for vaccinated tourists, who must undergo at least seven days of quarantine in a hotel.

Thailand's so-called "sandbox" scheme in Phuket - which allows vaccinated tourists to move freely around the popular beach island - currently requires them to remain there for a week.

Visitors outside of Thailand's designated 10 low-risk countries are welcome, "but they have to be in quarantine", said Mr Prayut, adding that more nations would be added to the greenlit list in December.

He acknowledged the decision came with the risk of more coronavirus cases. - AFP