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Monday, November 29, 2021

Bangkok’s reopening pushed back to Oct 15th

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BANGKOK: Bangkok will reopen to international travellers on Oct 15 when at least 70 per cent of its residents are expected to have been fully vaccinated.  The move was announced by Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn after a meeting with Bangkok Governor Aswin Kwanmuang with fully vaccinated foreign tourists able to visit Bangkok without having to quarantine.

Mr Pipat stated in the press conference, “Our mutual decision is that we want to carry out the vaccination throughout Bangkok – in every district – so that when we reopen it, it will apply to all of Bangkok.  For the safety of Bangkok residents, the vaccination coverage of no less than 70 per cent is very important.”

The current expectation is that by the end of the month, the 70 per cent mark will be reached in terms of people vaccinated in all Bangkok districts.  CNA reported that “According to the minister, more than 70 per cent of Bangkok’s population have already received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine but only 37 per cent have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.” 

Originally they were on track to open just 21 Bangkok districts, but Governor Aswin Kwanmuang recommenced that they wait until all districts could be re-opened, making it less confusing and inconvenient to visitors.

“The quarantine-free entry via Bangkok will benefit the whole country as tourists usually visit Bangkok as their first destination before travelling to other provinces. With the 7+7 extension plan which will be enabled at the same time, tourists can stay in the capital city for just seven days and choose another 8 provinces in the pilot reopening programme as their second choice,” Mr Phiphat said.

Bangkok re-opening is a key part of the government’s plan to boost the Thai economy, which has been historically reliant on visitors from abroad.  As well as Bangkok, reopening plans also include Pattaya, Chiang Mai, Hua Hin and Cha-am.  These are in addition to the first two pilot sites of Phuket and Koh Samui for its sandbox programme, while Krabi and Phang Nga were added in the extension programme.

This timeline for reopening Thailand is a result of the original announcement by Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha that Thailand will reopen its borders to international tourists in 120 days.   He also called on key tourist destinations to reopen sooner if they are ready, adding that travellers who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 should be exempt from quarantine

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