Bangkok, Jan 9 (EFE).- Thailand on Monday suddenly canceled Covid-19 vaccination requirements for international arrivals, which had been in force for only a matter of hours.
At a press conference at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport, where he had gone to receive the first arrivals from China, Anuntin Charnvirakul announced the cancellation of the “inconvenient” restrictions, which had just come into force in the morning.
The abrupt U-turn came after the restrictions were announced Saturday by the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) in a note to airlines, effective Monday.
That new policy required documented proof of full vaccination – or medical exemption or proof of recovery from Covid-19 in the past six months. If this could not be shown, then the traveler was required to be tested for Covid-19 upon arrival. The restrictions were to run until at least Jan. 31.
Tourism operators at the weekend had reproached authorities for the suddenly-announced vaccination requirements and lack of communication.
The Thai authorities insisted that the measures did not seek to discriminate against travelers from China, which has been experiencing a surge in cases after ending its strict zero-Covid policy and which reopened its borders Sunday.
Authorities will still require Covid-19 health insurance for visitors whose next destination requires a negative pre-entry PCR test, as is the case with China and India.
Chinese borders opening for the first time since the pandemic began is expected to cause a significant increase in outbound travel from the country, which, together with a surge in infections there, has led some governments such as those of Spain, Germany, the United States, France, South Korea and Japan to require PCR testing for arrivals from China.
Thailand, which in 2019 received 11 million Chinese tourists, expects 7-10 million travelers from the Asian giant to arrive this year due to the relaxation of restrictions there. EFE