The progress of the Omicron variant is spreading concern in Thailand and yesterday on 21 December, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said that Thailand would stop approving new applications at midnight for “Test & Go” and “Sandbox” entries except through the Phuket Sandbox scheme.
According to the announcement, those who already have received a Thailand Pass will be allowed to enter the country as planned but the “Test and go” strategy which allowed travelers to spend only one day in quarantine would be suspended at midnight local time on 21 December. “There will be no new approvals for the arrival schemes until the situation is reviewed on Jan 4,” Gen Prayut said.
The new rules will change the circumstances for travelers who are planned on traveling to Thailand in the near future as quarantine requirement of between seven and ten days is now being introduced in large parts of the country. Only the tourist island of Phuket is excluded and fully vaccinated tourists can still enter through the Phuket Sandbox scheme.
The travel agency Tui Sweden, a subsidiary of Tui Group had a busy day yesterday trying to reach travelers before the window for new applications closed.
Adam Györki, press communicator at Tui in Sweden says to Aftonbladet that the first thing they did after the announcement was made, was to inform all customers that they needed to apply for the Thailand Pass before 6 pm Swedish time if they were traveling to another destination other than Phuket.
According to the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, uncertainty factors linked to covid-19 have led to significantly fewer Swedes traveling to Thailand this winter, compared to before the pandemic. At Tui Sweden however, no signs have yet been seen that customers cancel travel due to the new entry rules.
Already on Monday after Thailand’s Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul stated that he wanted tighter restrictions for incoming guests due to concerns over Omicron, Tui Denmark started following the situation closely.
Tui Denmark started sending charter flights to Thailand at the end of November and currently offers two weekly departures. 85 percent of the seats on the planes over the next few weeks are already booked.
Head of Communications Mikkel Hansen acknowledges that it will indeed change the conditions for Danish tourists if they suddenly have to start the holiday with a quarantine.
“The authorities in Thailand are sometimes reluctant to disclose all the details. And when they introduce something new they share it at the beginning of the day which makes it very difficult for us to work with,” he says to BT and notes that any kind of quarantine will affect the Danes’ holiday plans.
To date, 63 omicron cases have been found in Thailand with one case detected after the person entered Thailand through the ‘test and go’ strategy and fell ill a few days after.