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Quarantine rules return in Thailand

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The pandemic has clobbered the country's tourism-dominated economy. AFP/File

Quarantine rules return in Thailand

Thailand reimposed mandatory coronavirus quarantine measures for foreign tourists on December 21, nixing a quarantine-free travel scheme as the kingdom seeks to stifle the spread of the Omicron variant.

The pandemic has clobbered the country’s tourism-dominated economy, which last year experienced its worst performance since the 1997 Asian financial crisis.

Early last month, Thailand reopened to fully vaccinated travellers – who had to isolate for a night until they received a negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test – from more than 60 countries.

But the government announced on December 21 that the so-called “Test and Go” scheme will be suspended for at least two weeks.

Visitors will have to undergo hotel quarantine for 10 days, or 14 days if they are unvaccinated.

But 200,000 travellers who already submitted applications to enter the country will be allowed to visit quarantine-free, said government spokesman Tanakorn Wangboonkongchana, adding that a second PCR test would now be required.

He said the “Phuket sandbox” – a work-around scheme that allows visitors to move around on the island while undergoing PCR tests – will remain operational.

Health minister Anutin Charnvirakul said the quarantine-free travel scheme would be reviewed again on January 4, adding that lockdown would be the last resort.

Thailand has detected 63 cases of the Omicron variant this week, including one community case.

AFP, THE NATION (THAILAND)/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

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