Effective early today Monday January 9 Thai time, airlines round the world are instructed to ensure that their passengers to Thailand have documentation to prove at least two anti-covid jabs, no matter how old. The exceptions are children under 18, pregnant mothers, Thai nationals and foreigners holding Department of Employment work or labor permits. Unvaccinated passengers must show a doctor’s letter why they are jabless, presumably for reasons of pre-existing health conditions. However, some unconfirmed reports say unvaccinated tourists are being allowed to board by some airlines with the proviso they will be delayed for testing by Thai health authorities on landing.
The latest regulations do not, immediately, include land border crossings. Consequently, the hi-speed rail route from the Chinese border to Vientiane, capital of Laos, is booked solid because of its proximity to the major crossing point at Nong Khai via the Friendship Bridge. Other reports indicate that passengers from Europe are trying to exchange their air tickets to Bangkok for Cambodia’s Phnom Penh or Siem Reap airport. From Cambodia, entry by land to Thailand is fairly straightforward via several immigration check points.
Inbound air passengers to Thailand do not require any travel insurance, or hospital cover for covid, unless their next air destination after Thailand is a country which insists on covid checks on entry. Examples include China and India which both require RT-PCR tests before boarding flights there. The required Thai insurance is a minimum of US$10,000 and must cover potential hospitalization whilst in Thailand. Whether the Thai health system can provide enough RT-PCR tests, within 48 hours of the flight to China for example leaving, is unclear. Pattaya hospitals told Pattaya Mail they don’t have the stocks. Unconfirmed reports say self-administered antigen tests may replace hospital-stamped certificates to cope with that6 issue.
The international press and social media are dismayed by the sudden imposition of new health requirements just as Thailand recovers from the covid-induced tourist starvation. They argue that the measures are a botched attempt to deal with high covid infection rates in China without seeming to single out China for special treatment. The Thai tourism minister and the Tourism Authority of Thailand are both pressurizing the Cabinet to reverse the restrictions on the grounds of “non-feasibility”.
In Thai fashion, any changes will be announced without prior warning. In the meantime, passengers with questions should consult their airline as the main thrust of checking has been thrown on check-in staff. Further checks at Thai immigration on landing are unlikely except on a random basis in order to avoid more chaos. Unless you are coughing or sweating of course.