Test & GO allowed fully quarantine-free travel to fully vaccinated travellers from more than 60 countries and was seen as the key measure in the relaunch of tourism in the country. Concerns over the Omicron variant of Covid-19 led to its suspension prior to Christmas.
The only bright hope for tourism in Thailand was that the Phuket Sandbox was allowed to continue. Again only available to fully vaccinated travellers, it allows visitors freedom of travel within Phuket although everyone must spend at least their first 7 nights in a SHA++ hotel and undertake Covid-19 PCR tests.
The announcement came following a meeting of the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.
Todays announcement will see Phang Nga (including Khao Lak), Krabi (including Ao Nang and Phi Phi islands) and Surat Thani (Koh Samui, Koh Tao and Koh Phangan only) also relaunching as Sandbox destinations from 11th January.
Thailand will also lift its complete ban on travellers from eight African countries which was imposed when Omicron was first identified as a threat.
The CCSA has also confirmed that alcohol consumption in restaurants will be halted after 9pm. in eight provinces from Sunday, and banned completely in the rest of the country.
“Social drinking is the cause of the virus spread. Measures to restrict this will help curb the spread.”
“If we just let it happen, cases could reach 30,000 a day by the end of the month.”Taweesin Visanuyothin. CCSA spokesperson
The 8 provinces which can continue to serve alcohol in restaurants until 9pm are:
- Chon Buri
- Pathum Thani
The ongoing closure of all night entertainment, including pubs, bars and karaoke palours, throughout the country has been again extended although this will be reviewed again in the next couple of weeks.
Thailand has today reported 7,526 Covid-19 cases today, the highest daily number since early November.
Sources: REUTERS & Bangkok Post
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