Thailand reinstates mandatory COVID-19 quarantine over Omicron concerns

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Thailand will reinstate its mandatory COVID-19 quarantine for foreign visitors and scrap a quarantine waiver from Tuesday due to concerns over the spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

Thailand will again require foreign visitors to enter quarantine in a bid to head off Omicron variant cases. The country’s important tourism industry was hard hit by the pandemic.Credit:AP

The decision to halt Thailand’s “Test and Go” waiver means visitors will have to undergo hotel quarantine, which ranges between seven to 10 days.

Meanwhile, a so-called “sandbox” program, which requires visitors to remain in a specific location but allows them free movement outside of their accommodation, will also be suspended in all places except for the tourist resort island of Phuket.

“After December 21, there will be no new registrations for ‘Test and Go’, only quarantine or Phuket sandbox,” deputy government spokeswoman Rachada Dhanadirek said.

The announcement came a day after Thailand reported the first case of local transmission of the Omicron variant.

It also came weeks after Thailand reopened to foreign visitors in November, ending nearly 18 months of strict entry policies that contributed to a collapse in tourism, a key industry and economic driver that drew 40 million visitors in 2019.

About 200,000 visitors who had previously registered for the quarantine waiver and sandbox program would still be eligible, government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana said.

“This is not to shut off tourists but to temporarily suspend arrivals,” he said.

The decision will be reviewed on January 4, he added.


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