Thailand Begins Tourism Reopening and COVID-19 Vaccine Trials

Today, the Thailand Board of Investment announced that the country is cautiously beginning its reopening process and relaxing some specific travel restrictions.

As of June 30, the country passed 36 days without any community spread of the COVID-19 virus and has surpassed expectations in terms of its handling of the current global health crisis, emerging as an example of best-practice management of a pandemic situation.

“The fact that we are able to open our borders to investors and business travelers is a good sign,” said Vorawan Norasucha, Director of the Thailand Board of Investment’s New York office. “We are optimistic that Thailand will continue to keep the virus under control and soon we will be able to lift travel bans for all visitors.”

The popular tourist destination in exotic Southeast Asia has announced eleven categories of visitors who are permitted to enter the country as of today, July 1, 2020, including foreign travelers approved to enter under special arrangements made with foreign governments.

The temporary ban on international flights, put in place by the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) April 3, has therefore been lifted. But, as part of the reopening strategy, the Kingdom of Thailand will require arriving non-citizens to complete a Certificate of Entry (COE) document.

The eleven categorizations approved for entry into Thailand are:

1. Thai nationals

2. Persons who have been granted exemptions, or are entering Thailand at the invitation of either the Prime Minister or other authorities involved in resolving ‘state of emergency’ issues. Such considerations, permissions or invitations may be subject to specific conditions and time limits.

3. Non-Thai nationals who are immediate family members (i.e., spouses, parents or children) of a Thai national.

4. Non-Thai nationals who possess a valid certificate of residence or have been granted permission to take up residence within the Kingdom.

5. Non-Thai nationals (and their spouses or children) who hold a valid work permit or are allowed to work in the Kingdom.

6. Carriers of necessary goods, subject to immediate return after completion of their deliveries.

7. Crew members whose routes require them to travel into the Kingdom, and have a specified date and time for return.

8. Non-Thai nationals who are students of educational institutions approved by Thai authorities, and their parents or guardians.

9. Non-Thai nationals seeking medical treatment in Thailand, and their attendants, with the exception of medical treatment for COVID–19.

10. Individuals involved in diplomatic missions, consular affairs, international organizations, foreign government agencies working in Thailand and other government representatives; or individuals working on behalf of other international agencies with the permission of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and including their spouse, parents or children.

11. Non-Thai nationals who are permitted to enter the Kingdom under a special arrangement with a foreign country.

To keep further contagion at bay, the Thai Government is investing in the National Research Council of Thailand’s (NRCT) development of a low-cost COVID-19 vaccine, the prototype for which has thus far proven effective in monkeys. Thai researchers have been collaborating with the University of Pennsylvania to formulate this vaccine that’s fundamentally similar to one being developed in the U.S., and is set to start human clinical trials in October.

If successful, production would start mid-2021 and low-cost vaccines would be available to ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) member countries, such as Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar and Vietnam, as well as Pakistan.

“The progress that has been made on the vaccine is very promising,” Norasucha commented. “Post- pandemic, we anticipate that Thailand will play a larger role in the global healthcare supply chain. Companies are recognizing that Thailand has a world-class life sciences industry.”

For more information, visit caat.or.th.

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