BANGKOK, 15 June 2020: Creating a travel bubble with China moves to the backburner following an outbreak of infections in a Beijing market on Sunday.
Thailand’s Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul told the local media last Friday that Thailand, now almost Covid-19 free, was ready to talk to China and New Zealand to create bubble tourism and reboot essential travel.
However, BBC reported on Sunday that an area of the Chinese capital Beijing is now under strict lockdown measures after the city’s first coronavirus cases in more than 50 days.
The outbreak has been linked to the city’s largest wholesale market, Xinfadi where 45 people out of 517 tested positive for Covid-19. None had displayed any symptoms.
Lockdowns have been imposed in 11 nearby neighbourhoods, while 10,000 market staff will be tested.
China has 84,288 confirmed cases and reported 4,438 fatalities, while Thailand infections have reached 3,135 and 58 deaths.
The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) said that creating travel bubble with served by an airline corridor between nations that Covid-19 free was on the table.
China topped the list followed by South Korea, Japan, Vietnam and New Zealand.
Thailand’s CCSA said it might open the country to international flights after 30 June first on a limited basis to kick-start travel mainly for foreigners who have work permits and need to return to Thailand and the remaining Thais who want to return home. At present, a ban on commercial flights to Thailand is in place, and it is understood that the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand will not extend the ban after it expires. But anything is possible, and there are growing concerns that second waves will hit the UK and the US. Iran reported on Saturday that a second wave had been reported in some cities.
Possibly by August, the first travel bubble for leisure travel from either South Korea or China could be achieved with Thailand, but discussions with China might now be premature if the Beijing infections spread further.
Even if travel bubbles are created, they come with restrictions such as having a “fit to fly” certification as well as a medical certificate not older than 72-hours that confirms the traveller has been declared Covid-19 free valid for no more 72 hours.
It would also require they show proof of medical insurance with USD100,000 cover that might not be widely available or excludes Covid-19.
Local media reports suggest the Ministry of Tourism and Sports is discussing incentives to support domestic travel now that all the domestic airports, including Phuket, have reopened. Thailand ended the curfew at midnight on 14 June. It was first introduced in March. The emergency decree remains in place until the end of June giving the government powers to introduce measures without the need to pass legislation.