A recap and FAQS of today’s MAJOR Thailand Pass suspension-related announcements

PHOTO: Bangkokbiznews

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The following is a recap and FAQS of today’s major Thailand pass announcements that we first covered HERE this afternoon and across our social media.

First, a brief synopsis of the current situation:

The Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) has halted new “Thailand Pass” registration except for Alternative Quarantine and Phuket Sandbox and suspended the “Test & Go” no-quarantine tourism scheme for all international tourists, effective tonight at midnight.

About 90,000 (This number varies widely depending on government source-TPN) registered arrivals who already declared their intention to visit the country can continue to arrive in the country but must go through additional health measures and an additional RT-PCR test on their seventh day of arrival (which will be free, at a government-designated location) as well as strictly follow guidelines issued by the Ministry of Public Health to prevent the imported case of the Omicron variant in Thailand.

New Year’s events and activities will not be ordered canceled but must abide by rules and restrictions of the Public Health, according to the order of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O’Cha.

The general committee of the CCSA will reportedly observe the situation of the Omicron spread closely and will reconsider the measures again on roughly January 4th.

According to the Ministry of the Foreign Affairs, new measures apply for all applicants on Thailand Pass, starting immediately. Applicants who have already been approved for their Thailand Pass and have their QR code can enter on the original plan they applied for. For example, if you are approved for a Thailand pass and applied for a test and go in Pattaya, you will still be allowed to enter via Test and Go in Pattaya.

Those who have not received their QR Code must wait for their Thailand Pass to be considered/approved. Once approved, they can enter Thailand under the scheme they have registered for. If rejected, however, one will need to either wait for an evaluation of the measures or apply for entry through Phuket Sandbox or Alternative Quarantine.

Thailand Pass will as of midnight tonight, December 21st/morning of December 22nd only accept new applicants seeking to enter Thailand under Alternative Quarantine (AQ) or the Phuket Sandbox.

Passengers who will arrive in Thailand under the Test and Go and Sandbox Programme must undergo their 2nd COVID-19 test using the RT-PCR technique (not ATK self-test) at government-designated facilities with no additional costs on the seventh day.

FAQS from questions we have had today mostly not covered above

Disclaimer: This is a highly fluid situation and we put this together to help and support our readers. We will update this often as more information from the government is released or changed. Changes can sometimes happen within hours (as of today with all of this information) so please be aware, but was correct as of press time.

Q. Are the Thai borders closed?

A.  No. The change is a temporary suspension of some entry programs for new applications to Thailand Pass, like test and go and all sandboxes except Phuket until further notice, currently scheduled to be reviewed around January 4th. Alternative Quarantine and Phuket Sandbox remain open for international visitors.

Q. Is this permanent?

A. No, it is temporary, once again, Test and Go and the other “sandbox” zones are not gone for good.

Q. Why is Thailand doing this during the normally busiest time of the year?

A.  According to the Ministry of Public Health, this gives Thai scientists and doctors time to continue to assess the Omicron variant and its severity as well as the ongoing Omicron situation around the world.

Q. Is Thailand entering a lockdown?

A.  According to Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan O’Cha, these measures are designed to hopefully avoid more restrictions, closures, canceling New Year’s events, or other major disruptions domestically. At this time no further restrictions are planned, of course, this could change if the situation in Thailand with Omicron and Covid-19 changes. New Year’s events, including in Pattaya, will continue for now with Covid-safe rules.

Q.  I am approved for Thailand Pass but it is past January 10th. Is this a problem?

If you are approved for Thailand Pass, or applied before the cutoff and approved, regardless of date, you will be allowed to enter on your previously approved scheme/plan. The January 10th date was miscommunication earlier from multiple outlets.

Q. I am approved for Thailand Pass and arrive (insert date) on test and go. I saw somewhere else I have to do quarantine still?

No, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  You will still be allowed, as stated above, to enter on your previously approved plan but with an additional RT-PCR test on day seven.

Q. Is this in the Royal Gazette yet?

A. Not yet but soon. For those arriving before that, you won’t need to do that additional RT-PCR test, ie. the next few hours.

Q. Can I transit through Bangkok for the Phuket Sandbox?

A. It’s looking like a no, same as prior Phuket Sandbox rules, although this could be re-evaluated.

Q. Is Phuket Sandbox 7 days or fourteen days?

Seven

Q. Is Phuket Sandbox hotel only?

A. No. It is a sandbox. You are free to travel around the island if approved for the sandbox program.

Q. Will Phuket Sandbox include nearby islands like before?

A. Unclear. Getting more information on this. With the suspension of other “blue” (A tourism zone designation, Business, Leisure, Ultimate Experience) coded tourism zones, it is unlikely.

Q. Where are more details on the Phuket Sandbox?

A.  This is a good link from TAT, keep in mind that the other “Blue Zones” are not open during the suspension period, only Phuket is, but the rules are the same.

Q. Why is ONLY Phuket being allowed for a Sandbox? Why not Pattaya? Or Bangkok?

A.  Again, this is temporary only. Phuket was not only the first sandbox and has ample experience but is also 1. Heavily boosted with third vaccine doses and 2. Easy to control access points for. Pattaya and Bangkok are neither. Other islands, meanwhile, have not implemented large-scale booster campaigns yet.

Q. Will they change any of the low-risk or high-risk countries for Thailand Pass/Test and Go, could this change the rules?

A.  This is likely going to be looked at later this week and the short answer is yes, it could, but is useless to speculate.

Q. How long is alternative (hotel) quarantine?

A.  This can depend on the country you are coming from. It can vary between 7, 10, to 14 days.  You need to check with your local embassy or consulate.

Q. What happens if I test positive for Covid-19 on a test/someone near me tests positive?

A.  You will be quarantined at a hospital or version of a hospital (quarantine hotel, etc), depending on your symptoms, risk status, etc. The quarantine period may even vary based on a number of factors. This is a difficult question to answer and has been covered in other articles and will not be the main focus of this topic as it will depend greatly on doctors and staff involved as well as one’s health. As for if someone near you tests positive, this is changing constantly and is also difficult to answer clearly.

Q. When will the suspension be evaluated?

A.  Around January 4th. There is no “set in stone” promise it will change, however, it is merely an evaluation.

Q. Should I cancel my planned trip?

A. If you are already approved for a Thailand Pass or have applied and get your approval, your previously applied for plan still applies, so our answer would be no, although keeping an eye on travel conditions in your home country as well as potential risks if testing positive and having to quarantine need to be kept in mind. If you have NOT applied, contrary to belief, many people had a great time in the Phuket Sandbox previously and there is no lockdown and currently, everything is basically open there. However, for those returning home/ex-pats, this might not be an option, and waiting for the evaluation might be suggested. It is, as they say, up to you.

We will add more questions as we get them on social media, comments, or e-mail at pattayanewseditor@gmail.com

Mr. Adam Judd is the Co-owner of the Pattaya News/TPN National since December 2017. He is originally from Washington D.C., America. His background is in HR and Operations and has written about news and Thailand for a decade now. He has lived in Pattaya for over six and a half years as a full-time resident, is well known locally and been visiting the country as a regular visitor for over a decade. His full contact information, including office contact information, can be found on our Contact Us page below.Stories please e-mail Pattayanewseditor@gmail.com About Us: https://thepattayanews.com/about-us/ Contact Us: https://thepattayanews.com/contact-us/