Thai govt plans to reopen Malaysia-Thai border in March

BANGKOK, Feb 14 — The Thai government is planning to reopen Thailand-Malaysia border in March to boost tourist arrivals, as Malaysian tourists have been the largest group of visitors to Thailand before the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) and Tourism Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) has been ordered to prepare and outline the pandemic mitigation measures for the reopening of the southern border provinces in the checkpoints of Songkhla, Narathiwat, Yala and Satun.

“Tourists from neighbouring Malaysia will enter Thailand via quarantine-free ‘Test & Go’ programme. However, travellers need to pass two RT-PCR Covid-19 tests on Day 1 upon arrival and the second on Day 5,” said Foreign Affairs Ministry’s deputy spokesman Natapanu Nopakun at Covid-19 daily briefing here today.

At present, under the “Test & Go’ programme, travellers have to apply Thailand Pass before entering the kingdom where they need to purchase a medical insurance with minimum coverage of US$50,000 (RM209,690) and RT-PCR Covid-19 test result 72 hours before travelling.

Besides that, travellers have to pre-book SHA Extra certified hotel and RT-PCR Covid-19 tests for Day 1 and Day 5.

Thailand had opened its door to fully vaccinated visitors from 63 countries and territories via the ‘Test & Go’ effective November 2021. However, the programme was suspended in late December over concerns about the spread of Omicron variant.

“Test & Go” was resumed on February 1, in bid to revive its tourism sector as Covid-19 infection is seen slowing down in the kingdom. As of February 13, a total of 39, 277 visitors had entered Thailand via the quarantine free programme.

Meanwhile, Deputy Government Spokeswoman Dr Ratchada Thanadirek said Thailand and Malaysia have been working closely on the reopening of border next month.

In March 2020, Thailand closed nine checkpoints with Malaysia to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Thailand has been badly hit by the Covid-19 pandemic with only about 200,000 arrivals last year compared to nearly 40 million visitors in 2019 and 6.7 million in 2020.

Over the last 24 hours, Thailand recorded 14,900 new Covid-19 cases including 192 imported cases and 26 fatalities, bringing the total infections in the kingdom to 2,608,227 and 22,462 deaths. — Bernama