Thailand Rethinks Its Reopening Model – Scrapping Quarantine & Sealed Routes

Chiang Mai Night Bazaar

Thailand is rethinking its reopening model as it will adopt the “One SOP, One System” (OSOS) policy, scrapping both mandatory quarantine and sealed routes for all pilot areas within this year and cutting COVID-19 test costs by half.

The reopening plan for five more areas — Pattaya, Chiang Mai, Hua Hin, Cha-am and Bangkok — will be submitted to the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) next week in order to start receiving inoculated tourists from 1st October, while Samui Plus will pivot to a quarantine-free destination at the same time, said Yuthasak Supasorn, Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) governor.

“Under this plan, every province will apply the same SOPs [standard operating procedures] which will enable tourists to travel freely within designated areas in each province,” he said.

“Tourists are simply required to follow the guidelines, such as activating the Mor Chana app and being checked daily by SHA Plus manager [hotel manager in SHA Plus hotel], instead of being kept in quarantine or only travelling under a tour programme,” said Mr Supasorn.

He said the agency is also in a discussion with health authorities about reducing the price to around 8,000 baht for three RT-PCR tests which is considered an obstacle for the reopening programme in both Phuket Sandbox and Samui Plus over the past few months.

“We will try to halve the RT-PCR price and allow tourists to use antigen test kits for their second and third tests. The package price should be universally applied to every province from October, including the Phuket Sandbox,” he said.

The OSOS also eliminates different measures which each pilot province was preparing, such as Pattaya and Chiang Mai that previously opted for partial quarantine and sealed routes, respectively.

However, TAT this week still has to discuss further the tourism sector in Chiang Mai and Bangkok about the plan for these two areas, particularly the capital which will include 21 inner districts, plus Bang Phli in Samut Prakarn where Suvarnabhumi airport is located.

Thanet Supornsahasrungsi, acting president of the Chon Buri Tourism Council, said Bang Lamung and Sattahip will be the first two districts in the reopening programme.

The province will propose the plan to let tourists travel within those two areas as soon as they get negative RT-PCR results. They also can choose to stay at any SHA Plus hotel. The two districts already have 21 certified hotels.

He said over 63% of residents in both districts were vaccinated and they should reach the 70% target by the proposed reopening date.

Ratchaporn Poolsawadee, president of the Tourism Association of Koh Samui, said there are few adjustments for Samui Plus’s quarantine-free plan. Tourists who enter via this programme have to spend their first seven days on Samui island and can travel to Koh Phangan and Koh Tao from day eight.