From Panu Wongcha-um and Panarat Thepgumpanat
BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thailand will end quarantine requirements for vaccinated visitors from 10 low-risk countries from November 1, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha said on Monday, as the Southeast Asian nation tries to revive its economy.
Thailand last year suffered its deepest economic meltdown in more than two decades, and its main tourism sector continues to struggle.
In a televised address, Prayuth said visitors from at least 10 countries, including the United Kingdom, Singapore, Germany, China and the United States, would be exempted from quarantine upon arrival.
He said more countries will be added to the list at a later time
I know this decision carries some risks. It is almost certain that if we ease these restrictions, we will see a temporary increase in severe cases.”
“We will have to monitor the situation closely and see how we can contain this situation and live with it, because I do not believe that the millions who depend on income from the travel, leisure and entertainment industries causing the devastation can withstand the blow of the second lost period of the New Year holiday.”
Prayuth said Thailand would act accordingly if an unexpected outbreak of a new, very dangerous variant of the virus occurred in the coming months.
Strict entry requirements and quarantine measures have helped keep Thailand’s coronavirus outbreak under control over the past few months, but restrictions have reduced arrivals to a small portion of about 40 million visitors in 2019.
Thailand lost about $50 billion in tourism revenue last year, a drop of 82%.
It began reopening the trial from July 1 on its most famous island, Phuket, where most of the local population has been vaccinated.
The total number of foreign visitors is only expected to reach 100,000 this year, according to the Tourism Authority of Thailand.
Thailand also plans to resume alcohol sales at restaurants and reopen entertainment venues by January 1.
Thailand has so far vaccinated 32.5% of the country’s 72 million people against COVID-19 and has eased several restrictions in Bangkok and other provinces where infection numbers have recently fallen.
(Reporting by Banu Wongsha-Om and Banarat Thepjumbanat; Writing by Orthai Sriring; Editing by Kay Johnson)
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