Thailand closes border checkpoints

BANGKOK, 24 March 2020: Thailand and its neighbours Laos and Cambodia are closing land border checkpoints in the hope it will help to curtail the spread of the Covid-19 virus.

Thailand closes borders with Cambodia in Banteay Meanchey, Battambang, Pailin, and Koh Kong, from 23 March to 5 April according to a report by the online news service Fresh News.

Similar action was taken on the Thai-Laos border closing the usually busy border checkpoint at the First Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge. It ends all overland travel between Vientiane the Laos capital and Nong Khai a town on the Mekong River in Northeast Thailand.

The shutdown of the  First Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge for travellers and vehicles, except for cargo transport, commenced 23:59 on 22 March. All the other Mekong River border bridges between the two countries have since closed.

Lao authorities have since issued a travel advisory that prohibits Lao nationals from leaving the country for tourism or commercial purposes.

Essential travel for medical or family reasons remains a possibility, but travellers who are visiting Thailand from Laos will have to show a medical certificate issued by a recognised hospital or clinic.

Certificates are issued by the Alliance International Medical Centre in Vientiane to enable travellers to board planes.

 Bangkok Airways, Lao Airlines, and Thai AirAsia have all temporarily suspended flights from Laos to Thailand. Thai Airways International remains the only airline offering flights to Thailand.

Travellers must have a  safe-to-fly Covid-19 certificate from a medical doctor, as well as valid health insurance cover worth USD100,000 that is valid for Covid-19 treatment.

Meanwhile, Thailand has closed all land border checkpoints with Malaysia. Thai Ambassador to Malaysia, Narong Sasitorn, informed Malaysian authorities of the decision.

“During the temporary closure of borders, all foreign and Thai nationals are barred from crisscrossing in and out of Thailand via land and sea,” said a statement issued by Thailand’s Foreign Ministry Southeast Asian desk.

Thai nationals and Malaysians can still travel between the two countries but only by air.

Thailand continues to allow the transport of goods across designated checkpoints. These include Sadao-Bukit Kayu Hitam (Kedah), Sungai Golok-Rantau Panjang (Kelantan), Wang Prachan-Wang Kelian (Perlis), Thammalang Jetty-Kuala Perlis Jetty (Perlis) and Betong-Pengkalan Hulu (Perak).