Deputy Immigration Bureau Commander explains the legal and official situation for foreigners currently seeking access to Thailand. While asking for patience and cooperation at this time, Choengron Rimphadi explains that without a vaccine or the virus disappearing, it is likely that there will be heightened security and control over inward travel to the kingdom in a ‘new normal’ era.
A senior Thai Immigration Bureau officer has called for the cooperation of everyone, including non-nationals, in defeating the Covid 19 virus as he outlined the current situation for allowing foreigners access to the kingdom. He also predicted a new normal even after the current situation is resolved or eased in the absence of a vaccine or the elimination of the virus. This will mean tighter control or security over entry to the kingdom for all travellers in the future.
Choengron Rimphadi, the Deputy Spokesman and a Deputy Commander of Thailand’s Immigration Bureau, has released a video explaining to foreigners what the current situation is for those seeking to enter the kingdom and outlining the steps that the Thai government has taken to deal with the coronavirus emergency.
Mr Choengron has asked the foreigner community in Thailand and all those involved to cooperate with authorities to ‘overcome this crisis’ together.
He has urged people to be patient so that ‘we, humanity can get past the crisis’.
5-minute video with subtitles outlines the current status clearly for foreigners seeking clarification
In the video, which is just over 5 minutes long (see below) and subtitled, Mr Choengron explains that first of all, the Thai government has imposed control over those who can enter the kingdom at this time.
These controls made under the emergency decree, are quite apart from the ban on passenger flights which is a separate measure, limiting access to the country under Section 9 of the 2005 Public Administration and Emergency Situation Act which governs the state of emergency currently in force.
The state of emergency is expected to be formally extended when the Thai cabinet meets on Tuesday.
Currently, 5 different classes of foreigners who may enter Thailand provided they have transport
The measure, now in place, limits access to the kingdom for all foreigners except for 5 different groups.
These are, firstly, people invited to Thailand on behalf of the government or the Center for Covid 19 Situation Administration.
The second group is anyone involved with logistical operations. These foreigners, nonetheless, must leave the kingdom as soon as possible once their mission is completed.
The third group comprises the masters of vessels or those responsible for conveyance craft including those with functions or duties attached to such transports. These also must have a specific schedule for departure from Thailand.
Diplomats and representatives of accredited bodies by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs allowed entrance
The fourth group comprises diplomats or those attached to international organisations which are recognised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Thailand.
The fifth group are foreigners either with work permits or who are permitted to take up work permits. This group includes those with relevant authorisation or written permission from the Ministry of Labour to work in Thailand.
Included in this group also, are those involved with the management of firms linked with Board of Investment approval or with specified industries such as the petroleum sector.
All are required to have authorising letters from their organisations.
Even for those approved, there are still other burdensome requirements to be met before admission
At this moment, no other foreigners, except these five groups, may enter Thailand under Thailand’s emergency decree and orders laid down by the Covid 19 Centre in its efforts to limit the spread of the virus.
Even if an individual is among these approved groups, there are other requirements and procedures which also have to be addressed.
The first is the ban on all inward passenger flights which has recently been extended to July 1st at the earliest.
However, even if one of these included groups, such as, for instance, a work permit holder, can make it to an external border crossing or immigration point without using a commercial passenger flight into Thailand, there are further considerations.
Medical certification within 72 hours of embarking for Thailand and $100,000 in health coverage
Any foreigner entering the country must have a medical certificate stating that the person is fit to fly if using an air flight while for all visitors, it must confirm that the foreigner is in good health and free of the Covid 19 virus. This letter must have been issued within 72 hours of travelling.
There must be health insurance coverage for up to $100,000 and this cover must also include insurance against the Covid 19 virus. This coverage must be authenticated by a Thai official.
Memorandum from the Thai Embassy and agreement to 14 days quarantine at the foreigner’s own expense
Thirdly, a certificate must have been issued by the Thai Embassy in the country where the foreigner is travelling from.
This must also include a memorandum of consent for the foreigner to self-isolate and be placed in state quarantine for 14 days.
In the video, Mr Choengron makes it clear that all costs associated with quarantine measures must be borne at the traveller’s own expense if they are an alien.
The current requirement is that all travellers must be placed in government-approved quarantine for 14 days.
Speculation mounts on the use of new commercial or ‘business class’ quarantine being mobilised
In our last news report (see below), we detailed that the Covid 19 centre is currently inviting hospitals and hotels in Thailand to apply as they prepare a commercial or ‘business class’ quarantine package on a larger scale which it is speculated may be the basis for a ‘new normal’ situation or tourism model until the coronavirus crisis has ended.
This does suggest a move, at some point, to relax entry requirements into the kingdom for foreigners.
It might be good news for long-stay foreigners in Thailand hoping to get home but it will mean access to the kingdom will become more expensive.
Even after complying with all that, all passengers arriving in Thailand must still be subject to a screening process set out by Thailand’s Department of Disease Control before being allowed entry into the kingdom and being placed into quarantine which foreigners will be expected to pay for or may have already paid for.
Those who do not meet the criteria will also not be permitted to enter Thailand at land borders
The immigration spokesman specifically pointed out that those who cannot meet the criteria to enter Thailand at this point, as outlined, will also not be able to meet the criteria at land borders.
This may be an option for those that do but who cannot access Thailand because of the passenger flight ban but meet the other criteria under the emergency decree.
Notwithstanding this, reaching Thailand’s land borders has also become more difficult. Aside from restriction in neighbouring countries, the situation, globally, is that international flights to any country at this point have been scaled back and have also become far more expensive.
Thre is a window here for a limited group of people but one fraught with difficulty.
May be entering a ‘new normal’ era for foreigners travelling to Thailand until virus abates
Mr Choengron warned that even if the current situation is resolved, we may be entering into a new era of travel to Thailand in the absence of a vaccine or the elimination of this virus.
‘The process of entering the country will change,’ he said in particular for air travel which is the lifeline for foreigners with links to Thailand such as jobs and careers or families in the kingdom.
‘We have to have tighter procedures,’ the immigration officer disclosed and it will all take more time. He suggested that there will have to be increased filtering of passengers and space restrictions on flights.
He forecast that this will inevitably lead to tighter security and more controlled access to Thailand until the virus has been defeated.
Virus and global response to it has changed our world into a more restricted and fearful one
It is clear as long as this virus persists or unless governments and airlines worldwide radically adjust or reorientated the response to it, that life for foreigners as we knew it before February this year has significantly deteriorated.
It should also be noted that in Thailand as in other western countries, there is broad support for these restrictive measures despite the growing concerns being raised at the impact they are having on personal freedoms.
Populations worldwide have become more fearful, that in itself, of course, is also a danger.
As the Thai immigration officer suggests, this is currently a challenge to humanity that simply must be met at this time together and as constructively as possible.