Last week, Thailand has decided to reboot their Test&Go program that allows quarantine free entry for fully vaccinated and PCR tested travelers but with some – now updated – modifications to the original model that was suspended for new applications since December 22nd.
The new version of the program and entry requirements is slightly different, especially in the way that a second PCR Test on Day 5 is now mandatory and requires another (nonsensical) quarantine stay.
Especially the circumstances of this test on day 5 (day 6 really as the arrival day counts as 0) is what makes people once again laugh at the Thai Government’s planning abilities.
After you’ve roamed around the country freely for at least four full days you are now supposed to check back into an expensive quarantine hotel, have them drive you to a test facility, and then wait in the room (!!) yet again until your result comes back. What a muppet show!
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (access here) has updated its site and provided a graphic of the new process:
The quality of this graphic is horrendous, sorry about that but this was the only one they made available in such a low resolution.
These are the entire guidelines:
All travellers must have the following documents for entering Thailand:
- A Thailand Pass, which can be applied via https://tp.consular.go.th/. *The system will reopen for new TEST & GO applications from 1 February, 2022 (09.00 Hrs. Thailand Time)
- A Medical Certificate with an RT-PCR lab result indicating that COVID-19 is not detected issued no more than 72 hours before travelling.
- Travellers under 6 years of age, travelling with parents with a negative RT-PCR test result within 72 hours before travelling, are not required to have a pre-arrival negative RT-PCR test result and can have a saliva test when entering the Kingdom.
- For arrivals by water, everyone on board the vessels must have a medical certificate with an RT-PCR lab result indicating that COVID-19 is not detected within the officially specified time frame. Anyone on aboard with a history of COVID-19 infection within a period between 14-90 days must have a medical certificate of recovery.
- An insurance policy with coverage no less than US$50,000.
- Thais and foreign expatriates under Thailand’s national healthcare coverage are exempt from this requirement.
- A proof of prepayment for 2 separate nights of accommodation at government-approved hotel/s, such as, SHA Extra Plus (SHA++), AQ, OQ, or AHQ on Day 1 and Day 5, and the expenses for 2 RT-PCR tests on Day 1 and Day 5. The prepayment for Day 1 must include an accommodation, a test and a prearranged transfer from the airport to the hotel. *Travellers can book 2 different hotels for the accommodation on Day 1 and Day 5. However, on both Day 1 and Day 5, they must stay within the room for the RT-PCR test result. The second RT-PCR test will not be required if the traveller’s length of stay is less than 5 nights, or his/her scheduled international departure date out of Thailand is on Day 5 or before. For example if the traveller plans to stay in Thailand for 3 days, then he/she does not have to undergo the second RT-PCR test, but he/she must leave for another country immediately. However, whether the traveller will be required to take another RT-PCR test depend on the airline and the final international destination.
- A Certificate of COVID-19 Vaccination/Recovery
- Everyone 18 years of age and older must be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 with an approved vaccine at least 14 days before travelling to Thailand.
- Travellers 12-17 years of age travelling to Thailand unaccompanied must get vaccinated with at least 1 dose of an approved vaccine. Those travelling with parents are exempt from this requirement.
- Travellers 6-11 years of age, travelling with parents, are exempt from this requirement.
- For arrivals by water, everyone on board must be fully vaccinated. This is except for travellers under 18 years of age, travelling with parents or guardians.
- Travellers with a history of COVID-19 infection who have recovered by medical treatment, and travellers who have received at least 1 dose of an approved vaccine after post-infection must have a certificate of COVID-19 recovery.
All travellers must undergo ‘exit screening’ at the point of departure, i.e., at the airline check-in counter and present the required documents to the person-in-charge to carry out the checks.
On-Arrival Requirements / During the Stay
- All travellers must undergo ‘entry screening’, including body temperature check at the point of entry.
- Present the required documents to the Immigration/Health Control officer to carry out the checks, then proceed through the Immigration procedures.
- Proceed to the prearranged accommodation or medical facility to undergo the first RT-PCR test. The trip must be by a prearranged vehicle on a sealed route. Then, all travellers must wait for the test result within the hotel only. Travellers under 6 years of age, travelling with parents, can have a saliva test.
- If testing negative for COVID-19, travellers are free to go anywhere in Thailand. However, they must stay at their prepaid accommodation on Day 5 and undergo their second COVID-19 test using the RT-PCR technique (they must stay within the room for the RT-PCR test result.) The second test can also be taken when the travellers experience respiratory symptoms.
- Travellers whose test result returns as positive will be referred for appropriate medical treatment in accordance with Thailand’s Communicable Diseases Act B.E. 2558 (2015). The expenses must be covered by the required insurance for foreign travellers, or national healthcare coverage for Thais and eligible foreign expatriates.
- Pending on their conditions, they may be medically advised to receive treatment in either hospital hotel isolation or community isolation.
- During receiving the medical treatment – at least 10 days, they must remain in their accommodation only. They should not leave their accommodation unless utmost necessary, and must notify the Communicable Disease Control officer in-charge.
- After having recovered from COVID-19, they will receive a medical certificate of recovery.
- While in Thailand, travellers are advised to strictly follow standard, good personal hygiene practices; such as, wear a mask in public, maintain hand hygiene (washing with soap and water or using hand sanitizer), and keep physical distance of at least 1 metre from others.
- Travellers who are experiencing COVID-like symptoms should get tested. If testing positive they must get an appropriate medical treatment. Those with COVID-19 testing appointment must get tested.
- All travellers must download and install the MorChana application, and set it on at all times for the COVID-19 precautionary measures and to record the result on Day 5-6 in the application.
Meanwhile, travellers who have applied/obtained their Thailand Pass QR code before 22 December, 2021, with scheduled arrival dates in Thailand from 24 December, 2021, onwards, are still required to undergo their second COVID-19 test using the RT-PCR technique at government-designated facilities on Day 5-6 of their stay in Thailand, or when they experience respiratory symptoms (no additional cost).
Guidelines for Domestic/International Departure
For domestic departure, travellers must show proof that they have received a negative result for their RT-PCR test.
For international departure, it is the responsibility of travellers or their organisations to make sure that the travellers meet the requirements of their specific international destination regardless of the point of departure.
At least it now spells out that those with short-term stays do not have to take a second test, something that was not exactly clear before although self-explanatory.
I have documented my experience entering Thailand under the previous conditions for applicants who received their Test&Go ThailandPass code before December 22, 2021:
And the follow-up PCR Test at a designated hospital without any quarantine requirement:
When I went through this process I was positively surprised about the efficiency and ease of the steps required from arrival to eventual release from the scheme following the second test.
These new conditions however are a different animal altogether. They add complication and cost to something that should be an easy, common-sense process. It’s one thing to accept the expense involved in the first night quarantine hotel, transfer and test as a simple cost of doing business.
In my case that was roughly 7,000 THB. To have this same expense AGAIN on Day 5 just because the clowns in the Thai Government came up with this brilliant idea makes the option rather redundant due to cost. I assume the hotel stay is also contingent upon the hotel driving you to the hospital and then returning to the hotel? Another service that’s undoubtedly charged with ~ 1500 Baht rather than a net-zero cost by just walking there or taking a cab 70 Baht.
I’d actually consider flying to Phuket or Samui for the Sandbox rather than jumping through hoops and going back and forth between hotel, home, hotel, and paying +/- 14,000 Baht for the privilege.
Sure, there will be less expensive options than the Grand Hyatt Bangkok available and one might even be able to get away with a day room reservation for that day that’s slightly cheaper. For tourists who need a hotel either way the impact isn’t as great but local residents who would ordinarily just go home after Day 1 this is a costly inconvenience.
The insurance requirement has also been widened not by the amount but that travelers now have to be covered for any required medical treatment and accommodation. Keep in mind that this is a tricky subject as many insurance policies won’t cover stays or treatment unless you’re sick. Only specific policies cover an arbitrary quarantine measure just because of a positive test.
And even if you are insured up to and beyond the required amount that doesn’t mean you find a good international hospital that will take you and provide a single occupancy room. This is something to consider as the media has been reporting extensively on horror stories where foreigners were locked up in multi-bed rooms, inadequate facilities run by the government and field hospitals.
Does this prospect encourage visitors? Not so sure about that.
The Test&Go program has drawn rather large numbers of both foreign visitors and also Thai residents who decided to go traveling overseas with the prospects of returning home while only facing minor inconvenience and cost. This new system will once again have people face the tough decision if the costs and risks associated with traveling to Thailand are really worth it.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand in coordination with the respective health authorities has updated the conditions and publicized a chart that shows what new applicants for the Test&Go Thailand Pass can expect from February 1st forward.
New requirements include a lot of fluff such as another mandatory hotel stay on day 5 in combination with a PCR test. This has nothing to do with science or common sense. It’s completely arbitrary nonsense and doesn’t serve any practical purpose. The clown show continues!