Same procedure as every year, travelers are still hanging in the air until the very last minute concerning new arrival regulations for flights to Thailand as some preliminary information was floating in the news last week.
A few days ago, the Public Health Minister (yeah, that guy!) published his idea of a set of rules that would apply to foreigners arriving in Thailand as China is preparing to open the floodgates for travelers to leave the country in the height of their strongest Covid wave yet.
Pandering to their CCP Masters, the Thai Government through the voice of the health minister then made a statement they wouldn’t just apply entry rules to the Chinese as that would be “discriminatory” and instead require a new set of rules for all international travelers.
These rules would include a set of at least two Covid vaccines (no matter when they were administered and what manufacturer) as well as travel insurance if the final destination of the traveler is a country that requires insurance as well.
John wrote about this when it first broke the news two days ago:
There has been a lot of noise but absolutely no news or official clarification since. Several days were floating around when these new rules should take effect. First of was January 7 (today) which came and went, then January 8th (tomorrow). China will open their own border to eligible foreigners without quarantine from Monday January 9th.
But once again, just like so often in the past when it came to updated entry rules to Thailand, no reliable news has been given to the public, airlines, and departing passengers as these dates come closer and closer.
Thailand relaxed its requirement for foreigners to be vaccinated in order to travel to the Kingdom last November. Now all of a sudden, this is supposed to be required again without any advance warning. Travelers who can’t produce the respective documents will then (depending on the airline, tour company, and hotel) most likely have to eat an expensive cancellation fee or lose the majority of their prepaid services.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has released absolutely nothing since the end of December when they last promoted the New Years’ Countdowns. Since then absolute radio silence.
Some recent media updates includes two articles in The Nation titled “Thais eager to welcome Chinese travelers in post-Covid rebound” (yeah right, as if) and “First planeload of 200 Chinese tourists to land in Thailand on Monday“. Brace yourselves!
As so often, the only one who has been on the ball and scrambling for information about entry rules is Richard Barrow, an eminent Thailand Blogger with some good connections.
Information about new entry requirements starting on Monday were released by the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand and so are only for airlines arriving at international airports. We are waiting for a different government department to give rules about land borders. pic.twitter.com/ij3wLo6wBv
— Richard Barrow (@RichardBarrow) January 7, 2023
Here is what the French Foreign Ministry and Embassy advises:
And some information from the Public Health Department concerning the recognized vaccines:
There is apparently no limitation to when these were administered and from the list pretty much any manufacturer worldwide, including the “highly efficient” Chinese vaccines (that Thailand itself administered to their citizens by the millions before they realized they didn’t work) are recognized. In short: This is all a CYA, dog & pony show that has nothing to do with public health and safety.
Richard also posted a document that was publicized by an official but then deleted later as there was an age-related typo in the first paragraph:
This translates into the following:
1. Passengers over 18 years old are required to present vaccination certificate or a letter from a doctor certifying that they have recovered from COVID-19 no longer than 6 months (180 days).
2. Passengers coming from countries with measures to prevent people infected with COVID from returning to the country must have health insurance covering COVID treatment throughout the duration of the trip in Thailand. Expats with Thai social security are exempt.
3. Passengers holding Thai passports are exempt from having documents checked for vaccination and health insurance.
4. Passengers who are in transit are exempt from checking vaccination documents and health insurance documents.
5. The airline must check the documents as mentioned. If the Passenger is unable to present these documents, the carrier must refuse the passenger to board.
6. Airlines must adhere to relevant requirements and follow guidelines as appropriate, such as asking passengers to wear masks throughout the journey. Except during the meal or in an emergency.
7. Passengers with symptoms of COVID-19 during the journey will be advised to undergo a test upon arrival at their destination. This will start from 9th January at 1:00 a.m. until 31 January at 4:59 p.m.
Basically all we know for now.
This is basically Thailand rolling out the red carpet for the Chinese and not trying to offend anyone there, all while China experiences a new height of the pandemic after abandoning the zero covid policy and changing to a “let it rip” approach. But those are the rules that have to be played by if one wants to visit Thailand from now on until further notice.
From all public data currently available (Saturday evening) it seems that the new entry rules will come into effect from Monday, January 9th, 2023 arrival in Thailand. This means that flights departing on Sunday night and arriving after midnight (or 8 am depending on which document to believe) would be affected as well.
All these dates and information are based on information obtained through Richard Barrow’s sources and foreign diplomatic missions. Zero official information from Thai media or from the Tourism Authority, whose officials are probably still hungover from the New Years’ festivities.
Airlines will be responsible for checking the vaccination certificates of travelers as per the above list, and if they can’t be produced, then passengers will be denied boarding. Penalties for missed flights and cancellations will, in all likelihood, be at the passenger’s expense.
I have a feeling we’re suddenly back in 2021, and Thailand is moving backward rather than forward just to please the Chinese, something that could very well backfire in a very bad way. The country was on a good trajectory after having eased most Covid related rules, both related to entry and daily life. The coming weeks and months will show where this will land us.