In mid-June, Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-Ocha surprised everyone by promising foreign tourists to reopen the country in October.
He said it was time to take the calculated risk.
At that time, few people took it seriously.
Thailand is jealous of its borders and has imposed quarantine and piles of paperwork on all arrivals since April last year.
Foreign tourists, once the cars of the Thai economy, have collapsed. Over 70,000 arrived within the first eight months of the year, compared to 40 million in 2019.
Covid-19 was successful in most of 2020, but by June of this year the infection had increased rapidly and the government was strongly criticized for being too late to start vaccination. It was impossible to start in October.
But, faithfully to his words, it seems that a major resumption has begun, albeit a very modest step.
The curfew has been reduced by one hour at 22:00 to open libraries and museums. You can go to the spa, but you need to make an appointment in advance and have a recent negative Covid test.
Fully vaccinated tourists will be quarantined for only one week instead of two. Even smaller mitigations are expected in November. This is good news for the sick hotel industry, but it’s not enough to keep visitors inside.
Pub with nothing
Bangkok bar closed from early April
Why is the Thai government acting so cautiously? The simple answer is a vaccine and a limited number of ICU beds.
Despite the significant increase in vaccine orders, the government started late and is still far from the official goal of vaccination of at least 70% of the population.
At the end of September, just over a quarter received two doses, and many who received the less effective Sinovac vaccine should receive booster shots.
What do we know about the Covid-19 vaccine in China? Is the success of Chinese vaccines in Asia declining? And during the latest Covid wave heyday in July and August, all beds were filled in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) in Bangkok, and families with seriously ill patients were desperately elsewhere in the world. I had to find a bed. No one wants to see the repeat of the grip experience.
However, due to the known infection of the delta variant, many health experts believe that even 70% of the population has too low a vaccination target before Thailand is fully open to tourists. ..
“Vaccination rates among the oldest and most vulnerable people should reach 85 or 90%,” said Tanarac Prepat, a health inspector and until recently deputy director of the disease control department in Thailand. “In general, given the delta variant, the vaccine coverage should be safe for everyone living in Thailand, 80%.”
Some in the travel industry agree that it is too early to fully resume. “In reality, January 1st would be a good time,” Tasapon by Rebeld, president of Thai AirAsia, the country’s largest low-cost carrier, told the BBC. “Until then, there are no plans for international flights.”