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Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Thais remain cautious over opening up to arrivals

Most people are still opposed to opening the country to foreigners not infected with Covid-19, as the threat of global pandemic remains very serious, according to a survey carried out by the National Institute of Development Administration, or Nida Poll.

The poll was conducted on July 6-8 among 1,251 people aged 18 and over of various levels of education and occupations throughout the country.

A proposed “medical and wellness” programme would open the country to foreigners who test negative for Covid-19 to receive medical treatment. They would be required to undergo a 14-day quarantine before being allowed to travel in the kingdom.

A majority — 55.3% — disagreed with the programme. Of them, 41.41% strongly disagreed with it, saying those admitted could be carriers and cause a second wave of the pandemic, while Thailand already has many infections imported by Thai returnees from abroad. Another 13.9% said they disagreed because the situation does not yet warrant the entry of foreigners even if they have health certificates.

On the other side, 23.1% agreed, saying this would enhance the reputation of Thai medical facilities and spur the economy; and 21.58% moderately agreed, reasoning that measures taken by Thailand had proved effective.

A second proposed programme would allow those foreigners admitted for medical treatment to travel around Thailand after undergoing a 14-day quarantine. Asked about this second programme, 37.8% were against it and wanted Covid-19 to be 100% eradicated first because they had no confidence in the 14-day quarantine, while 14.5% disagreed with it, but less strongly, for fear of a second wave of the pandemic since Covid-19 was mostly imported by foreigners.

On the other side, 24.1% strongly supported the programme, saying it would help rehabilitate tourism and stimulate the economy, while another 23.2% somewhat agreed with it for showing confidence in Thai medical services.

Asked about the travel bubble programme that would allow foreigners from countries free of Covid-19 to visit the country, a majority — 54.3% — supported it. Of that number, 25.9% strongly agreed, saying it would help spur the economy and revitalise the airline industry, while another 28.4% were in moderate agreement for the same reason.

On the other side, 29.65% strongly opposed the programme, and a further 14.95% were in moderate disagreement for fear of a second wave of the pandemic.

Meanwhile, Thailand and Japan are expected to finalise a travel bubble agreement under which Japanese investors are permitted to enter or re-enter Thailand now that the Covid-19 lockdown has been eased. Details are being wrapped up including what health measures will be required to support the scheme, said Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob.

He was speaking after meeting Japanese ambassador to Thailand Nashida Kazuya on Friday.

The Thailand Board of Investment was assigned to lead the Thai side in working together with its Japanese counterparts on the bubble arrangement, the minister said.

The most likely Covid-19 quarantine option for Japanese investors under this programme would be at private facilities, which will possibly be required along with a health insurance policy covering up to around US$100,000 (3.1 million baht), said Mr Saksayam.

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