The news that many people in the UK and Thailand were waiting for finally came yesterday (7th October) afternoon. Thailand has been removed from the UK Government “Red List” of countries.
Main picture Phuket beach sunset, Thailand credit Arkady Lukashov on Unsplasj
The change will take place from 4am (UK time) on Monday 11th October.
“After much speculation this week we are so happy to see Thailand come off the UK’s travel red list. It’s a very timely boost for Thailand’s travel industry. We’re heading into peak season with our best weather ahead, particularly along the Andaman coast and insights from our UK tour operators tells us there is huge interest in travel to Thailand and 1,000’s of postponed holidays set to be rebooked both for immediate winter sun getaways and departures in 2022.
Today’s announcement gives travellers the much-needed confidence to (re)make travel plans.”Ms Chiravadee Khunsub, Director of Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), UK & Ireland
Travellers from the UK had been the second highest nationality visiting the Sandbox in Thailand prior to it moving to the red list. The largest market, the US, moved Thailand to its Do No Travel List, where it still remains.
Travellers to Thailand can currently visit the Sandbox areas of Phuket, Surat Thani (Koh Samui), Krabi and Phang-Nga (Khao Lak), as long as they are fully vaccinated, without the need for a full quarantine.
Instead they are able to complete a number of PCR tests and travel freely around the designated areas for 7 days. They are then able to travel freely around Thailand, as long as there aren’t any other travel restrictions in place.
UK Travel Red List
The new red list will see just seven countries listed; Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Haiti, Panama, Peru and Venuzuela.
Travellers returning from a red list country, or have been in a red list country in previous 10 days, must;
- quarantine for 10 full days in a managed quarantine hotel (the day you arrive in England is day 0)
- take a coronavirus (COVID-19) test on or before day 2 and on or after day 8 of quarantining – these are included in your hotel package
You must follow these rules even if you’ve been fully vaccinated. If you break the quarantine rules you may face a penalty of up to £10,000.
Non-red List Rules
Travellers will no longer need to undertake a pre-departure PCR test before travelling to the UK but must book and pay for a day two (after return) PCR test.
Government officials are today saying that they are looking to replace the day two PCR test with a much cheaper Lateral Flow test. Despite reports in some media outlets, especially in Asia, this has not yet been confirmed and may yet change or not take place. We await official confirmation of any change.
The Bad News
As ever however the news is not all good and it is not as simple as it first seems.
Due to the devolved governments in the UK, the change only applies to people returning to England, the rules for people entering Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland are currently different.
The biggest issue facing travellers from the UK however is the following advice from the UK Government:
“The FCDO advise against all but essential travel to the whole of Thailand based on the current assessment of COVID-19 risks.”UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) website
This provides many prospective travellers with an issue.
The vast majority of Travel Insurance providers will not cover countries where the FCDO advise against all but essential travel.
To get permission to travel to Thailand you must be able to demonstrate a minimum of $100,000 of medical cover for Covid-19.
Most UK citizens will struggle to be able to get this cover and, if they can, it is likely to be extremely expensive.
Until the FCDO change their advisory, it is unlikely that travel numbers from the UK will see a significant increase.
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