(Sept 23): Thailand will end a nationwide state of emergency declared in the wake of Covid outbreak after the Southeast Asian nation downgraded the virus from a “dangerous” communicable disease to one that only requires surveillance.
The Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration on Friday (Sept 23) agreed to let a state decree enforcing the emergency to expire on Sept 30, Deputy Health Minister Sathit Pitutecha told reporters.
The emergency decree, which allowed the government to streamline disease-control plans without multiple approvals from various agencies, had been in place since March 2020.
Thailand has moved to end most pandemic-era restrictions on travel and businesses following a steady decline in new Covid cases and pickup in vaccination rate. The lifting of controls have helped the tourism-reliant nation to lure back foreign visitors in large numbers in recent months.
The country has also removed Covid-19 from the same category as plague and smallpox to the same level as influenza and dengue to reflect the easing outbreak globally and higher rate of vaccination. The move will also boost tourism, seen as key to sustaining an economic recovery, according to officials.
Travellers to Thailand will no longer require a proof of vaccination to enter the country from next month, Taweesilp Visanuyothin, a spokesman for the Covid panel, told a briefing on Friday.
Thailand has seen foreign tourist arrivals gather momentum since the scrapping of a pre-arrival registration requirement, Covid testing and insurance in July. Arrivals were estimated at 5.26 million between Jan 1 and Sept 21 this year, he said. That’s up from just 427,869 tourists in 2021, official data show.
Before the pandemic, the overall tourism-related sector accounted for about a fifth of Thailand’s economy and jobs, with nearly 40 million overseas visitors arriving in 2019, who generated more than US$60 billion in revenue, according to the central bank.