Thailand is cautiously heading to a phased reopening that is likely to kick-off this April but the doors may not fully open to welcome tourists until January 2022.
Awaiting cabinet scrutiny, the latest Ministry of Tourism and Sports’ staged recovery plan identifies four distinct opening phases starting with the “Wellness Leisure area Q and Hotel Q” due to start 1 April and continue to the end of May.
Phase 1 - Wellness Leisure April to May
Five provinces are eligible for relaxed quarantine rules - Phuket, Krabi, Surat Thani ( Samui, Tao and Phangan Islands) Chonburi (Pattaya) and Chiang Mai.
Under its terms, visitors from the UAE, Israel, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and possibly India and Russia line up for less daunting quarantine rules. Groups of one to four tourists get to stay confined in their room from day one to day three, followed by restricted access to specified hotel facilities from day four to 14. Hotels must be certified, and the plan recommends that health workers and risk groups should be vaccinated in the five provinces declared suitable for phase one of the reopening.
Phase 2 - Exclusive Travel Area June to September
This would involve the setting up of an exclusive travel area or “sealed route” in which tourists could move around while doing Area Quarantine for 10 days. They would be restricted where they could move.
After they have completed their quarantine they can travel anywhere in Thailand.
The plan is to have Area Quarantine in Phuket, Pattaya, Krabi, Chiang Mai, Surat Thani (Khon Tao, Koh Samui and Koh Phangan), Phangnga and Bangkok.
Phase 3 - Sandbox October to December
This could involve one day in quarantine with a swab test requirement for tourists who have already been vaccinated twice abroad.
Along with it will be an end to the Certificate of Entry document that will be replaced by a vaccine certificate (perhaps the so-called “vaccine passport).
Phase 4 - Self Quarantine January 2022 onwards
The fourth phase, named "Self Quarantine Track and Trace" will open the travel door fully to all provinces across Thailand by January 2022 for vaccinated international travellers who pre-test negative before departure and have a “travel passport or vaccination certificate.”
Eligible source market countries are those that have vaccinated 70% of their populations.
Mandatory measures such as hotel or area quarantine are history but authorities would still have the option to require a one-day quarantine on arrival while waiting for a PCR swab test result.
There is also a caveat that “most residents in Thailand will have been vaccinated by January 2022,” which will represent a major challenge for public health authorities.