Modified Test & Go scheme to resume from Feb 1
To the delight of tourism operators, the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) decided on Thursday to resume the Test & Go scheme but modified it to suit the Omicron situation.
The revised Test & Go scheme will be reintroduced on February 1 to travellers from all countries, the CCSA announced following a meeting chaired by Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha.
Under the original scheme, which was suspended on January 7 following a surge in new Covid-19 cases after arrival of the Omicron variant, fully vaccinated foreign tourists were required to book a hotel room for just one night. They were allowed to travel freely after testing negative via RT-PCR on check-in at their hotel.
But under the updated scheme, tourists are required to show proof of hotel booking for Day 1 and Day 5 of their stay in the country for applying for entry via the Thailand Pass website. The hotels can be different ones.
The hotels they book must possess Safety and Health Administration (SHA) Plus certification or be allowed to serve as Covid-19 alternative quarantine facilities.
Tourists must undergo a RT-PCR test on the first day of arrival and again on the fifth day. If they test negative, they are free to travel to their destinations, the CCSA said. They must make pre-payment for two RT-PCR tests.
The scheme also retains the requirement for tourists to purchase health insurance worth at least US$50,000. Additionally, they must have a negative RT-PCR test result within 72 hours before departure. Kids under 6 who travel with their parents will be exempted from the test.
Tourists are also required to provide certificates of full vaccinations or medical certificates that they have contracted and recovered from Covid-19 when they apply for entry via Thailand Pass.
Tourism business operators have been calling on the government to resume the Test & Go scheme to resuscitate the dying industry. They pointed out that the sandbox schemes in Phuket and three other provinces were not enough to revive the industry.
CCSA spokesman Dr Taweesilp Visanuyothin noted that the committee decided to ease restrictions after the Covid-19 situation was seen to improve and stabilise.
He said new cases after the long New Year holidays were below worst-case scenarios, when it was feared these cases would rise to some 30,000 a day after the holidays.
On Thursday, the Public Health Ministry reported that there were 8,129 new Covid-19 cases and 19 deaths in the past 24 hours.
Taweesilp said the graph of new Covid-19 fatalities was even lower than the expected projection line.
Due to the stabilised situation, the CCSA also decided to reduce the number of controlled or “orange-zone” provinces from 69 to 44, Taweesilp said.
The 25 provinces that were taken out of the orange zone were put under the “highly monitored” list of provinces, or the so-called yellow zone. Earlier, there were no provinces in this category.
People in yellow-zone provinces are allowed to consume alcohol in restaurants and events can be held with no more than 1,000 people, the doctor said.
He said the CCSA had heeded calls from business operators to extend the drinking time from 9pm to 11pm for restaurants in tourism pilot provinces, or the blue zone, as well as yellow-zone provinces.
The CCSA also heeded calls from pubs, bars and karoke shops to allow them to resume business after they adapted their venues to become restaurants.
He said these operators must obtain permission from provincial Covid-19 situation committees and their venues must meet SHA Plus or Thai Stop Covid 2 standards, while they need to enforce Covid-Free-Setting measures to be allowed to reopen as restaurants that can serve alcohol.
Due to the improved situation, the CCSA decided not to extend the Work From Home period for government agencies after this month-end, Taweesilp said.
He said large schools with 1,000 students outside orange-zone provinces may consult their provincial committees for resuming on-site studies provided they observe and implement strict Covid-19 preventive measures among students.