Thailand to restart quarantine-free travel from February 1

BANGKOK (AFP) – Thailand will resume its quarantine-free travel scheme from February 1, officials said yesterday, after the programme was suspended due to the fast-spreading Omicron Covid-19 variant.

Pandemic travel curbs have hammered the kingdom’s tourism-dominated economy, sending visitor numbers dwindling to a trickle.

Fully vaccinated travellers will now be able to enter under the “test and go” scheme as long as they take Covid tests on the first and fifth days after arriving, spokesman for the country’s Covid-19 taskforce Taweesin Visanuyothin told reporters.

Visitors will have to isolate at a hotel while waiting for their test results and will be required to download a tracking app to ensure they comply with the rules.

Seeking to bounce back from its worst economic performance since the 1997 Asian financial crisis, Thailand launched the “test and go” scheme in November as an alternative to two weeks’ hotel quarantine.

The programme was suspended late last month over fears about Omicron, but with deaths and hospitalisations not spiking, Taweesin said it could resume, though the authorities will keep it under review.

Traditional Thai dancers wearing protective face shields. PHOTO: AFP