Thailand’s Public Health Minister, Mr. Anutin, has flipped-flopped on the covid-19 vaccination requirement that he announced late last week (read more here) and which was communicated to the airlines yesterday (read more here) and further amended today (read more here).
The Thai government has decided that they won’t require incoming passengers to prove that they have had a complete set of covid-19 vaccines or medical reasons not to. However, the mandate to have travel insurance for passengers whose next destination requires a negative covid test will remain in place.
Here’s what happened over the past few days:
The health minister on Thursday announced that Thailand would only welcome fully vaccinated visitors from Sunday.
There was no communication from Thailand about what the requirements are and exactly when they will be in place.
Then Thailand issued a notice to airlines that they need to deny boarding people who were not fully vaccinated.
- Thai Airways & Other Thailand-bound Carriers Issue Passenger Notice Of Entry Regulations Effective January 9, 2023
And issued another notice on Monday morning that airlines could transport passengers that Thailand doesn’t consider fully vaccinated, but there would be covid-test at the airport.
Excerpt from the Bangkok Post:
In an abrupt U-turn on Monday, Mr Anutin said requiring visitors to show evidence of two vaccine doses was “inconvenient” and a panel of experts had resolved that it was unnecessary as enough vaccinations had been administered globally.
Mr Anutin said visitors not vaccinated at all would also be granted entry without restriction.
“Showing proof of vaccination would be cumbersome and inconvenient, and so the group’s decision is that it is unnecessary,” Mr Anutin told reporters.
Authorities will still require foreigners whose next destination is a country requiring a negative pre-entry Covid-19 test to show they have health insurance covering treatment for the disease, Mr Anutin said.
Airlines are unaware of these drastic changes over the past few hours, and even Thai Airways still requires passengers on the evening flight from Singapore to Bangkok to have the vaccination record available or avail themselves of rapid antigen tests at the airport.
Perhaps the Public Health Minister was unaware that they couldn’t have administered all these sudden tests and documentation overview at international arrivals airports in Thailand with the current passenger numbers.
The airlines transporting passengers to the country could have verified vaccination or Covid-19 test results, but to do this at Thai airports would have been impractical, if not completely impossible.
This is a good reminder that international travel still has obstacles, and the rules can change with practically no notice.
Let’s hope that not many passengers were denied boarding due to these changes over the past 24 to 48 hours.