While many countries are reintroducing COVID-19 entry regulations in response to China’s opening, Thailand has decided to u-turn on its regulations.
This is despite the fact that China is facing an uptick in COVID-19 cases as it finally abandons its zero-COVID policy and countries all over the world (including tourism-dependent Thailand) fear another deadly outbreak. In today’s blog post, I’ll lay down all the need-to-know details for you including what the new entry regulations were, why they were initially introduced and now scrapped, and what the consequences could be.
Foreign travelers no longer need to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination before entering Thailand
Thailand initially stipulated that all foreign passengers* entering the country from January 9th, 2023 must present a valid vaccination certificate showing that they have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 no less than 14 days before travel. Accredited vaccines include, but are not limited to, AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna, and Sinopharm. The full list of accredited vaccines and the required dosage can be found on the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand’s (CAAT) website here.
*Exemptions were in place for those who have a medical certificate showing recovery from COVID-19 within 6 months or a medical certificate explaining why they haven’t received the vaccine. Other exemptions include Thai passengers and those who are transiting through Thailand.
However, very shortly after the new regulations were announced, Thailand decided to rescind this entry regulation citing sufficient immunization levels in China and globally. Health minister Anutin Charnvirakul said in a Reuters article that checking of vaccination status was a cumbersome and inconvenient process, and those not vaccinated would also be granted entry without restriction.
Health insurance is only required for certain foreign arrivals.
Many countries are now requiring a negative RT-PCR test result as a condition for entry. To make sure that foreigners aren’t stuck in Thailand due to being COVID-19 positive, the Kingdom stipulated that foreigners whose next destination requires a negative pre-entry test must have valid travel health insurance cover for COVID-19. Unlike the proof of vaccination requirement, this entry regulation hasn’t been rescinded since being announced.
With that said, all travelers are highly encouraged to secure a valid travel health insurance policy ahead of their trip to Thailand. Whether it’s COVID-19, flu, or any other illnesses or accidents, having a travel health insurance policy in place enables you to access the best healthcare the country has to offer without paying out of pocket. This provides much-needed peace of mind when you’re away from home in an unfamiliar environment.
U-turn of new entry regulations come ahead of mass Chinese arrivals to Thailand
Thailand is highly tourism dependent, with the sector contributing roughly 10% of the country’s GDP, and Chinese tourists making up a large share of foreign arrivals pre-pandemic. Needless to say, Thailand’s tourism industry was battered by COVID-19 entry restrictions and so tourism providers were keen to welcome Chinese tourists again. The first commercial flight from China to Thailand arrived on January 9th itself, carrying 286 passengers from Xiamen to Bangkok.
Detection of the COVID-19 XAY.2 variant
At the same time, concerns remain over new COVID-19 variants. This concern isn’t completely unwarranted as Thailand has already detected its first case of the XAY.2 variant, which is a combination of AY.45, a sub-variant of the Delta strain, and the Omicron BA.4/5 sub-variant. However, Dr. Yong Poovorawan, chief of the Centre of Excellence in Clinical Virology of Chulalongkorn University, reassured the public by saying that 70% of the Thai population are protected through vaccinations.
Staying protected with a health insurance plan
I work for a health insurance brokerage in Thailand and I can’t stress the importance of a health insurance plan enough. Whether you’re an expat in the country or are just visiting from overseas, a good health plan gives you peace of mind that you’re covered no matter what. You’ll be able to access the best healthcare facilities without needing to pay out of pocket and be supported in an unfamiliar environement.
To learn more about health insurance and/or secure a plan today, you’re more than welcome to send me an email at email@example.com or contact my team at Pacific Prime Thailand.