BANGKOK, 5 January 2022: There are no indicators to suggest Thailand will resume its Test & Go quarantine-free travel scheme any time soon as yesterday’s deadline for a possible review passed without comment from the government.
Travel industry executives were hoping for a reprieve, but instead, the Ministry of Public Health only confirmed it was recommending the reopening of the Test & Go scheme should be postponed to the end of January 2022. It is still a proposal, but it indicates the Ministry of Public Health remains cautious even if initial studies show the highly infectious Omicron is less severe than the Delta variant
According to the National News Bureau report quoting the Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister, Anutin Charnvirakul, Omicron Covid-19 cases totalled 1,780 on Monday, with the most reported cases in Bangkok, Kalasin, Roi Et, Chon Buri and Phuket.
Based on the global and rapid spread of the Omicron variant, the Ministry of Public Health confirmed it has proposed that the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) consider postponing the reopening of the Test & Go scheme to the end of January even though it had earlier suggested a review would be conducted 4 January.
It still remains a proposal, but the 4 January review deadline passed without an announcement to reactivate the scheme, an outcome that inbound tour operators lobbied for in petitions to the government.
A proposal to bring back the Test & Go scheme possibly by the 31 January will be presented to the CCSA at a meeting attended by the permanent secretary to the Ministry of Public Health, the director-general of the Department of Disease Control (DDC) and medical professionals.
But don’t hold your breath on a fast return of the scheme until it is clear the Omicron variant has spiked and infections are levelling off or declining.
Travellers who have already registered and gained the green light to visit Thailand under the Test & Go Scheme must arrive in Thailand by 10 January at the latest, according to the National News Bureau.
Visitors arriving after the deadline will be required to enter through the Phuket Sandbox program or Alternative Quarantine (AQ) services, the bureau stated.