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Thailand drops pre-departure test requirement for visitors

Thailand drops pre-departure test requirement for visitors
A tourist wears a face mask to prevent spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) during sunset near the Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand, on Jan 7, 2022.
PHOTO: Reuters

BANGKOK - Thailand said on Friday (March 18) it will scrap a mandatory pre-departure coronavirus test for visitors starting next month but will still require entry registrations in advance and an on-arrival test.

Known for its nightlife and beach destinations, Thailand has sought to revive its pandemic-battered tourism sector by being among the first in the region to ease travel restrictions.

The measures saw arrival numbers tick up to nearly 134,000 in January this year from about 7,700 in the same month in 2021 - a year in which the Southeast Asian country received just 0.5 per cent of pre-pandemic arrivals.

But businesses have pushed for entry rules to be further simplified.

From April, Thailand will no longer require visitors to present a negative polymerase chain reaction or PCR test result prior to arrival, Taweesin Visanuyothin, a spokesman for the government's Covid-19 taskforce, told a news conference.

ALSO READ: A month after reopening, Thailand sees gradual tourism recovery

But visitors will still need to apply for a special permit to enter the country that can take up to seven days to obtain. Those entering under the quarantine-free "Test and Go" and "sandbox" schemes will still need to undergo a swab test on arrival and do a self-administered antigen test on their fifth day in the country.

The "sandbox" programme, an option that is still available in some resort destinations and allows people free movement only within that location before traveling elsewhere, will be reduced from seven to five days from April, Taweesin said.

The easing of entry measures was announced as the country reported 27,071 new cases on Friday, a record high, and 80 new deaths.

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