Thais open arms to HK travelers

Top News | Charlotte Luo 5 Mar 2020

Thailand authorities have clarified that Hong Kong tourists can visit the country without being subjected to a 14-day quarantine period upon arrival.

Only Thai nationals returning from Hong Kong and other high-risk regions affected by the Covid-19 virus will face quarantine, the Tourism Authority of Thailand said, adding temperature checks are required for all tourists.

Arrivals found to have virus-related symptoms will be referred immediately for further tests.

"Hong Kong friends are always welcome to come here for sightseeing," the authority said.

This comes after the Public Health Ministry in Thailand listed Hong Kong - alongside the mainland, Macau, Taiwan, Japan, Germany, South Korea, France, Singapore, Italy and Iran - as a high-risk area for Covid-19.

Thailand's public health minister Anutin Charnvirakul earlier posted on his Facebook page that all visitors from high-risk areas would be required to undergo quarantine for 14 days and that there were no exceptions.

But the post was later removed from the page without explanation.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha yesterday issued 14 urgent measures to handle the virus situation, including asking state employees to work at home for 14 days if they had returned to Thailand after traveling from high-risk areas or were suspected to have contracted the virus, according to The Thaiger.

According to the new measures, transport agencies and local administrative bodies are required to strictly screen passengers at transport hubs, including airports, train stations, and bus stations.

In addition, state agencies will cooperate with private companies to cancel or postpone activities that involve large gatherings of people, in order to reduce the risk of infection.

The Commerce, Public Health, and Industry ministries plan to jointly evaluate the demand for essential supplies, including hand gels and masks, with the aim to provide sufficient stock to meet public needs.

Tourism is a major sector in Thailand's economy, which was hit hard by the outbreak. It suffered a 1.1 percent drop in revenue from foreign tourists in January, according to the country's Tourism Ministry. Some 3.81 million tourists traveled to Thailand in January, it added.

While the number of tourist arrivals had seen a 2.46 percent increase from the same period last year, the number of Chinese tourists - Thailand's largest group of tourists - fell by 3.71 percent to 1.03 million.

Thailand's Fiscal Policy Office said the reduction in the number of Chinese tourists was linked to the outbreak, as countries worldwide have stepped up travel oversight or restrictions after the virus spread to more countries.

Singapore has said it will ban visitors with travel history to Iran, northern Italy or South Korea within the past 14 days.

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