Thailand to Lift Emergency as Covid Declared Not Dangerous

·2 min read

(Bloomberg) -- 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.

Most Read from Bloomberg

The Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration on Friday agreed to let a state decree enforcing the emergency to expire on Sept. 30, Deputy Health Minister Sathit Pitutecha told reporters.

The emergency, 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 axed 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.

Travelers to Thailand will no longer be required to provide proof of vaccination or Covid test results to enter the country from next month, Natapanu Nopakul, a deputy spokesman for the foreign affairs ministry, told a briefing on Friday.

People who test positive for Covid with mild or no symptoms will also not be required to isolate themselves but wear masks in crowded areas and follow other health measures, Natapanu said.

With more than 77% of Thai population having received at least two doses of vaccines and 46% boosters, new Covid cases and fatalities have declined steadily in recent months, according to the virus panel.

Thailand has seen a rush in tourist arrivals since the scrapping of a pre-arrival registration requirement and insurance in July. Arrivals were estimated at 5.26 million between Jan. 1 and Sept. 21 this year, 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 $60 billion in revenue, according to the central bank.

(Updates with details on waiver on isolation in eighth paragraph.)

Most Read from Bloomberg Businessweek

©2022 Bloomberg L.P.