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Thailand suspends quarantine waiver scheme indefinitely, expands Sandbox programme

With the rise in the numbers of COVID-19 infections connected to the Omicron variant, the Thailand government extended the suspension of its quarantine waiver programme on 7 January 2022.

Reports say that the decision was taken at a general meeting chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha. No date has been specified for the duration of the suspension, which was first implemented on 22 December 2021.

(Main and Featured images: Jack Taylor/AFP)

A look at new rules in Thailand as Omicron cases rise

Suspension of ‘Test & Go’

Thailand Sandbox
Image credit: JJunie L/@jjunie/Unsplash

According to Reuters, Taweesin Visanuyothin, the spokesperson of the COVID-19 task force, said that no new applications for “Test & Go”, the quarantine waiver scheme in Thailand, will be granted approval.

The new rule does not apply to people who have already applied. According to Visanuyothin, at the time of writing, existing applicants will be granted entry in Thailand without quarantine until 15 January.

Travellers who are existing applicants will have to take an RT-PCR test upon arrival and another one by the seventh day of their stay.

Sandbox programme expanded

Image credit: Miltiadis Fragkidis/@_miltiadis_/Unsplash

Even though “Test & Go” has been indefinitely suspended, visitors to Thailand have some reason to cheer with the expansion of the Sandbox programme to more areas.

The schemes will now apply to Krabi, Phang Nga, or the Surat Thani islands of Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao starting 11 January.

Only fully vaccinated travellers can opt for the Sandbox programme, which was until now open only to Phuket. Tourists can stay at government-approved hotels in the Sandbox areas after taking an RT-PCR test upon arrival.

Also starting 11 January, people from eight African countries, previously designated as high-risk, will be allowed to travel to Thailand.

Alcohol limit on bars

The Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration gave the green light to reopening of bars, nightclubs and karaoke venues temporarily as “restaurants” starting 16 January. However, not all will be allowed to serve alcohol.

“Social drinking is the cause of the virus spread. Measures to restrict this will help curb the spread,” Visanuyothin said.

Thus, a ban on booze remains on restaurants in all provinces classified as “orange” zones starting 9 January, while approved restaurants in the eight “blue” zones, including Bangkok, will be able to serve alcohol till 9 pm every night.

On 7 January, Thailand reported 7,526 coronavirus cases — twice the number on 1 January and the highest since early November 2021.

(Hero and featured image credit: Evan Krause/Unsplash)

Thailand suspends quarantine waiver scheme indefinitely, expands Sandbox programme

Manas Sen Gupta

Manas Sen Gupta writes at the intersection of tech, entertainment and history. His works have appeared in publications such as The Statesman, Myanmar Matters, Hindustan Times and News18/ETV. In his spare time, Manas loves studying interactive charts and topographic maps. When not doing either, he prefers reading detective fiction. Spring is his favourite season and he can happily eat a bowl of noodles any time of the day.


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