By Panu Wongcha-um and Panarat Thepgumpanat
BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thailand will end coronavirus quarantine requirements for vaccinated visitors from 10 low-risk countries from November 1, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha said on Monday, as the Southeast Asian nation tries to revive its battered economy. . .
Thailand last year suffered its deepest economic contraction in more than two decades, and its main tourism sector continues to suffer.
In a televised address, Prayuth said visitors from at least 10 countries, including the United Kingdom, Singapore, Germany, China and the United States, would be exempted from quarantine upon arrival.
He said more countries will be added to the list at a later time
“I know this decision comes with some risks. We will almost certainly see a temporary increase in severe cases if we ease these restrictions.”
“We will have to monitor the situation very carefully and figure out how to manage and live with this situation because I don’t think the many millions that depend on revenue from the travel, leisure and entertainment hit in the second missed period of the New Year holiday.”
Prayuth said that if an unexpected emergence of a very dangerous new strain of the virus occurs in the coming months, Thailand will act accordingly.
Strict entry requirements and quarantine measures helped contain the outbreak of the coronavirus in Thailand until recent months, but the restrictions reduced arrivals to a small portion of about 40 million visitors in 2019.
Thailand lost about $50 billion in tourism revenue last year, down 82%.
It began reopening a trial on July 1 on its most famous island, Phuket, which has pollinated most of its local population.
According to the Tourism Authority of Thailand, the total number of foreign visitors is expected to reach only 100,000 this year.
Thailand also plans to resume selling alcohol in restaurants and entertainment venues by December 1, Prayuth said, adding that the country will have more than 170 doses of the vaccine by the end of the year.
Thailand has so far vaccinated 32.5% of the country’s 72 million people against COVID-19 and has eased many restrictions in Bangkok and other provinces, where the number of infections has recently fallen.
(Reporting by Banu Wongsha-Om and Banarat Thipjumbanat; Writing by Orthai Sriring; Editing by Kay Johnson)
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