Thailand to drop mask rule and registration of foreign tourists
Bangkok (AFP) – Thailand announced on Friday it would drop rules requiring people to wear masks outdoors and no longer require foreign visitors to register before travelling, as Covid-19 cases plummet and the kingdom seeks to attract tourists.
Face masks have been mandatory in public in Thailand, including outdoors, since mid-2021 when the Delta variant was rampant.
But as the pandemic subsided, the tourism-dependent kingdom has gradually eased covid restrictions in a bid to boost visitor numbers.
Thailand’s easing on face masks comes after similar moves from regional peers including Cambodia and Singapore.
Taweesin Visanuyothin, spokesperson for Thailand’s Covid task force, said wearing masks outdoors would become voluntary but was still recommended in crowded areas, entertainment venues and on public transport.
He said the Department of Health would announce further details on the relaxation of the mask, including its effective date.
On July 1, the government will also end the “Thailand Pass” system, under which foreign tourists had to register and show proof of vaccinations and health insurance before they could fly to the kingdom.
Visitors will need to have vaccination certificates or pass Covid tests upon arrival.
The move is seen as an attempt to bolster the booming economy, which has seen its growth hammered by the pandemic and the cost of living rise.
There were more than 1.6 million foreign tourist arrivals in the first six months of 2022, with foreign tourism receipts recorded at 99.7 billion baht, according to government data.
That compares to around 40 million foreign tourists visiting Thailand in 2019, the last year before the pandemic.
Daily Covid-19 cases have hovered below 3,500 in recent weeks, with the death toll below 50 a day for a month.
More than three quarters of the population received two doses of the vaccine, and more than 40% also received a booster dose.
© 2022 AFP