Thailand’s 24-Hour Travel Restrictions

To be or not to be in Bangkok? (Photo from King Power Maha Nakhon Tower)

The announcement by the Thai government to suspend temporarily visa on arrivals facilities for 18 countries and reinstate visas for three countries -Hong Kong, South Korea and Italy lasted only one day. Less than 24 hours, the Thai government cancelled the measure and will first look at the evolution of the situation…

The government of Thailand decided to cancel last Wednesday visa on arrival facilities for 18 countries as well as visa exemption for three others. Talking to the media after announcing the measure, Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda  indicated to hope containing the spread of the coronavirus. Thailand had 70 recorded cases on Thursday night.

Previously, nationals of 18 countries or territories could use their passports or travel documents to apply for Visa on Arrival (VoA) at Thai immigration checkpoints. The 18 countries are: Bulgaria, Bhutan, China (including Taiwan), Cyprus, Ethiopia, Fiji, Georgia, India, Kazakhstan, Malta, Mexico, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, and Vanuatu. Visa exemption was also cancelled for Hong Kong, Italy and South Korea. The Interior Minister however promised that these measures will be lifted as soon as the situation is turning back to normal again.

Anupong Paojinda said that all travellers from those countries have to apply for visas at a Thai embassy or consulate which will be only delivered if visitors show a medical certificate to prove they are not infected with the virus. However, this certificate might be difficult to obtain in many countries as tests are only done when the person shows potential symptoms of the COVID-19.
The new enacted measure was however short-lived. In a surprising U-turn, the government announced on Thursday night to suspend the measure until at least next week when the government will make a more informed decision. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs indicated that “bilateral agreements cannot be unilaterally cancelled without consulting with concerned partner countries.”

In another movement to continue limiting the number of tourist arrivals to the country and to avoid the gathering of large crowds, the government as well as city and regional authorities have decided to cancel all Songkran parties, which take place around the country to celebrate the arrival of the Thai New Year between April 13 and 15.