Bangkok’s tourist attractions are opening up.
Thailand is set to open its borders to international travellers on July 1. According to The National Security Council, this will be a complete, albeit cautious, reopening of the country and will include the opening of interprovincial borders.
The State of Emergency was brought in on March 26 to address the coronavirus pandemic and will now come to an end during June, with the lifting of all business and activity lockdowns. The country’s curfew will also be lifted.
However, the government reiterated that it will be a ‘cautious’ reopening. “If the country reopens to foreign travellers too quickly and they bring the virus with them, Thailand will have to go back into lockdown, which will be catastrophic,” said prime minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.
International travel has so far been lifted in stages for specific groups of overseas visitors. There is no official word on when the 14-day quarantine requirements will be removed. All arrivals from overseas are currently expected to submit two Covid-19 tests and spend 15 nights in isolation. Visitors must cover the cost of their quarantine and medical certifications, although state quarantine – described as adequate but spartan – is provided free-of-charge.
As an alternative to state facilities, there is a handful of luxury hotels in Bangkok offering special quarantine packages. Movenpick BDMS Wellness Resort Bangkok is offering a Homecoming Health Watch deal, including airport transfers, full-board for 15 nights and access to the hotel gardens. The pool, however, remains out of bounds as swimming is prohibited under Thai quarantine rules.
In terms of borders reopening to tourists, the governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), Yuthasak Supasorn, told CNN in May that initially overseas visitors would likely be limited to certain areas. He said TAT was looking into offering long-stay packages in isolated areas where health monitoring could be controlled. “We are not going to open all at once,” he said. “We have to look at the country of origin to see if their situation has truly improved.”
However, domestic travel is picking up and the end of May saw many attractions up and running again. In Bangkok, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha and the Grand Palace reopens to the public this week (June 4).
The government has also launched the Amazing Thailand Safety and Health Administration (SHA) to ready the hospitality industry for the reopening. Hospitality group Anantara announced today (June 3) that its Anantara Siam Bangkok Hotel has become the first of the group’s Thai hotels to be awarded SHA certification. Enhanced hygiene measures include the use of Environmental Protection Agency-approved disinfectants, electrostatic spray technology and the availability of hand sanitisers throughout properties.
The government’s Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) is currently finalising details as to which businesses can resume and under what conditions as part of the third phase of relaxation in June.
Restaurants, shopping malls and venues in ‘white’ and ‘green’ low-risk categories have reopened throughout the country. However, pubs and bars fall into the ‘red’, or high-risk category of business, and will be the last to reopen.
The government said it was considering financial aid for temples where all activity stopped, including donations from the public.