Thailand has extended a grace period for visa renewals for foreigners stranded in the Kingdom due to the COVID-19 pandemic until the end of October, as travel restrictions remain in place and new infections increase globally.
The extension will allow foreigners to remain in Thailand until 31st October, Taweesin Wisanuyothin, a spokesman for the government’s coronavirus taskforce, told Reuters.
The matter is subject to cabinet approval on Tuesday but is expected to pass.
Thailand halted commercial flights in April and banned foreign visitors in an effort to keep the coronavirus at bay, with repatriation flights the only means of leaving the country.
In July, authorities granted automatic visa extensions from late March to 26th September to all foreigners.
After October, a new immigration regulation will allow foreigners to apply for 60-day extensions to remain in the country if they are unable to leave due to limited flights or other issues, Pornchai Kuntee, deputy commissioner of the Immigration Bureau, told Reuters.
Previously, extensions required documentation from their respective embassies and were limited to 30 days.
Authorities on Monday also extended an emergency decree until the end of October.
Thailand has kept the number of confirmed coronavirus cases at a low 3,545 with 59 fatalities.
The government this month approved visas of up to 270 days for long-stay tourists and is preparing to reopen to some foreign visitors from next month, although the move could be delayed.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand expects foreign tourist numbers to plunge to 6.7 million this year from 39.8 million in 2019 before recovering to 20.5 million next year.
This compares with the central bank’s estimate for 9 million tourists in 2021.