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Thailand doubles 2021 visitor numbers after easing quarantine rules

Reuters
Thailand doubles 2021 visitor numbers after easing quarantine rules

ARRIVAL. Foreign tourists arrive at Suvarnabhumi Airport during the first day of Thailand's reopening campaign, November 1, 2021.

Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters

Starting December 2021, Thailand plans to deploy rapid antigen tests rather than PCR tests to shorten wait times for tourists

Thailand has received more than 100,000 visitors after launching a scheme earlier this month that allowed vaccinated tourists to skip quarantine, an official said on Friday, November 26, nearly as high as the number of arrivals in the first 10 months combined.

From next month, Thailand plans to deploy rapid antigen tests rather than PCR tests to shorten wait times for tourists, said coronavirus task force spokesman Taweesin Wisanuyothin, in a move hoped to further boost the vital sector.

But numbers still remain far below the norm – Thailand received 40 million arrivals in 2019 – and some businesses and returning tourists have complained about virus restrictions that remain in place.

For example, in tourist destinations like Bangkok, pubs, bars, and nightclubs are closed and restaurants cannot sell alcoholic drinks after 9 pm.

These venues have poor circulation and have been sites of previous clusters, Taweesin said.

Health officials are working with these businesses to implement measures including testing staff every three days that could allow them to reopen in the future, he said.

Thailand has reported a total of nearly 2.1 million infections and 20,645 COVID-19-related fatalities, the majority of them since April. – Rappler.com

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