Thai News

2020

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A shot in the arm for tourism...

Thailand buys in AstraZeneca covid vaccine


Link Here26th November 2020
Thailand has just signed a $200 million deal to procure 26 million doses of a trial coronavirus vaccine developed by pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca in collaboration with Oxford University. It is expected to be delivered in mid-2021.

The doses would cover 13 million people in a population of about 69 million.

Government spokesperson Anucha Burapachaisri said officials are still considering how to prioritize vaccine recipients. Those who work closely with COVID-19 patients, for example, doctors and nurses, should be among the first get get vaccinated.

Perhaps those working with dangerous foreign visitors should be next on the list.

 

 

Thai negativity...

Thailand Plus, yet another proposed tracking app to snoop on the location of visitors


Link Here23rd November 2020
The Thai government is to introduce another new app, called Thailand Plus , to enable the tracking of foreign tourists in the country.

 Sompote Arhunai, CEO of the Energy Absolute Company, which developed the coronavirus venue registering Mor Chana app, said that the Thailand Plus app functions like Mor Chana, but it will link to information from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, for screening and tracing, from arrival in Thailand, supposedly for the prevention of COVID-19 spread.

Similar to a GPS system, he said that officials will know the whereabouts of the tourists during their stay in Thailand.

 

 

 

 

Updated: Excess baggage...

Bangkok taxis introduce an extra charge for luggage


Link Here21st November 2020
State controlled taxi fares are very cheap in Thailand, so it is reasonable for drivers to top them up a little with extras

The Transport Ministry has announced that as of Tuesday, Bangkok metered taxis will be allowed to charge passengers handling fees for large luggage items, but not for equipment such as wheelchairs or walking sticks.

The charge is basically 20 baht for each bag that exceeds 26 inches in width, height or length. And also 100 baht per piece for sports equipment like golf bags, bicycles, surfboards or musical instruments that are 50 inches or more in size.

The cabbie is required to inform the passenger in advance about the extra handling fees.

No charges will be allowed for smaller baggage such as handbag, computer bag, backpack or personal belongings carried by the passenger.

Update: Airports taxis only

21st November 2020. See article from thethaiger.com

The Land Transport Department is clarifying the recent news that taxis in Bangkok can charge special handling fees for luggage after the announcement received public scrutiny. The department's deputy director Tanee Suebrerk says this special fee only applies to metred taxis travelling to and from Bangkok's two airports.

 

 

Thailand backs off from telling backpackers to pack off...

Thailand has massively increased financial requirements for a tourist visa


Link Here 19th November 2020
 
Foreigners who wish to apply for a Single Entry Tourist Visa (SETV) to Thailand are now required to provide 6 months worth of bank statements showing a continuing bank balance of at least 500,000 Baht (£12800)

The jaw dropping new financial requirement has been confirmed on the websites of several Thai embassies around the world, as well via emails to Thaivisa readers .

The SETV allows foreigners to stay in Thailand for up to 60 days from the date of arrival and is valid for 90 days from date of issue.

Previously, applicants for the SETV had to show proof they had a balance of at least 20,000 THB or 40,000 THB for families and sometimes, depending on the Thai Embassy or Consulate, this wasn't asked for.

And that's not all. Applicants also need to meet all the other requirements necessary for any non-Thai to return to Thailand currently such as, Certificate of Entry, declaration form, quarantine booking, Fit to Fly Certificate, COVID-19 negative test result and an insurance policy which provides a minimum of 100,000 USD coverage, including for COVID-19.

Update: Too onerous

19th November 2020. See article from thepattayanews.com

Based on multiple reports, Thailand has dropped its requirement for proving significant money in the bank before being able to obtain a tourist visa to visit Thailand.

The requirement to prove having 500,000 Baht (£13,000) continuously held in a bank account for 6 months has been dropped from most embassies around the world including the UK.

Thailand is keen to try and attract richer tourists, but maybe they found that this particular method of filtering out the riff raff ended up with no visitors at all.

 

 

Updated: Early release...

Thai government seeks to reduce quarantine for foreign visitors to 10 days but to then force them to be tagged


Link Here1st November 2020
The National Communicable Disease Committee has agreed to reduce travel quarantine to 10 days from 14 days, said Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Ministry Anutin Charnvirakul.

The Disease Control Department will issue regulations on the new measures to monitor the quarantinees for another four days after they complete the mandatory 10-day quarantine.

Contact tracing system will be put in place and they must adhere to social distancing rules, avoid crowded places and wear face covering.

Update: Electronic tagging

1st November 2020 See article from thethaiger.com

The next idea to make Thailand into an Orwellian hell for foreign visitors is to force them to wear electronic tags.

These will track their locations and measure the body's temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate, and alert the authorities if the readings step out of line. Eg If a body temperature over 37.5c is recorded, an alert will automatically be sent to local health officials.

The 'Smartband' is being introduced from today. It's the brainchild of the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society, in cooperation with Thai startups, according to the announcement on PR Thai Government.

 

 

Offsite Article: Getting from UK to Thailand: practicalities...


Link Here24th October 2020
A forum post about working through the onerous and expensive process for obtaining permission to travel

See article from forum.thaivisa.com

 

 

Medical expenses...

Thailand outlines its covid insurance requirements for all visitors


Link Here23rd October 2020
The Tourism Authority of Thailand has announced an update about compulsory Covid-19 insurance. They say it's now available online in a one-stop-shop .

Foreign visitors will be able to purchase compulsory Covid-19 insurance policy online prior to visiting Thailand, and indeed this is necessary in order to obtain permission to enter Thailand.

A medical insurance policy with at least US$100,000 coverage or about 3.16 million baht for possible Covid-19 treatment is among the official documents required from foreign visitors planning to visit Thailand.

Note that this covid insurance is in addition to any other medical, health or travel insurance that visitors may choose to purchase

The insurance costs up to £120 to cover a month's visit or £1080 to cover a year.

 

 

A return to mass tourism...

39 tourists arrive in Thailand


Link Here20th October 2020
Thailand has received its first tourists since the coronavirus lockdown of March 2020.

39 tourists from Shanghai arrived at Suvarnabhumi Airport on Tuesday.

The new tourist arrivals are on special 90-day visas and have had to undergo an onerous application process that is probably only viable for tour operators to set up on behalf of the tour group. The tourists must now stay in quarantine in for two weeks and test negative three times before they can move around freely (well apart from being tracked by apps).

A Thai tourism spokesman said: We are in discussions with groups to come from Europe in November.

 

 

Visas for condos...

Thailand considers offering long term visas to foreigners who buy high value condos


Link Here15th October 2020
Thailand's government are coming up with ways to try and woo foreign visitors and investors back to the kingdom.

Now they are dangling a changed smart visa before the eyes of condo buyers and even promising to throw in an Elite Card if you spend enough in the real estate market.

Thansettakij reported that the BOI (Board of Investment) are considering adjusting requirements for a so-called Smart Visa. Foreigners who buy an EIGHT million baht condo and don't sell it for five years could get one.

In addition there is now a scheme that if people invest enough in the real estate sector they will be given a free Elite Card.

 

 

No takers...

The first batch of Chinese tourists due in Phuket prove to be just wishful thinking


Link Here12th October 2020
Some 120 Chinese tourists were supposed to have been arriving in Phuket last Thursday until an eleventh hour delay was announced.

But now it has been revealed that the TAT had only supplied a list of names of those interested in coming to Thailand as part of the Special Tourist Visa (STV). Foreign ministry spokesman Natthaphanu Noppakhun told the Thai media that NOT ONE Chinese person in Guangzhou had actually applied for an STV at the consulate there.

There is a mountain of paperwork required such a visa and vast expense for quarantine and insurance, not to mention a savings bank account requirement that £15,000 has been maintained for 6 months prior to travel. Many any have noted that the scheme is a non-starter.

However Natthaphanu said that 22,000 CoE (Certificates of Entry) have been processed worldwide from those gathering paperwork to return to Thailand. These include applications from work permit holders, teachers, students, spouses of Thai nationals, experts, the sick and businessmen.

 

 

We can but hope...

New police chief announce an end to police checkpoints


Link Here4th October 2020
Thailand's new police chief Pol Gen Suwat Chaengyodsuk has called for an immediate end to all forms of roadside checkpoints in the country.

An order ending the notoriously unpopular roadside checks was issued yesterday. This will mean an end to roadside checks for drink driving in particular as the new chief wants to see greater transparency with tests being done in hospitals.

Suwat ordered his men to do their jobs in a proper and dignified manner and promised new faces in command positions, greater use of technology and improved efficiency in a drive to improve the help given to the public.

In particular he proposes that CCTV speed cameras replace roadside speed checks by police and he has ordered 5,000 new CCTV cameras to be installed in the next 4 months in Bangkok to help the police.

 

 

Less insurance...

Insurance requirements for Special Tourist Visas reduced but are not yet available to Brits


Link Here2nd October 2020
The health insurance requirement for tourists entering Thailand under the new Special Tourist Visa has fallen to a minimum of 40,000 Baht coverage for outpatient treatment and not less than 400,000 Baht in case of hospital treatment.

The previous requirements were to have a minimum of US$100,000 health insurance coverage.

The new requirements are the same as for existing O-A and O-X long stay visas.

Meanwhile Richard Barrow reports that the Thai Embassy in London has specified eligibility for the Special Tourist Visa. It seems that Britain is not a sufficiently safe country to qualify yet.

 

 

Seeking volunteers for an experiment...

Hoop jumping tourists invited back to Thailand will have to wear electronic tags


Link Here30th September 2020
Thailand has now confirmed that its Special Tourists Visas (STV) are available from 1st October 2020. These require onerous pre-visit paperwork, insurance and covid testing. However Thailand says that it is expecting a tour group of rich Chinese visitors from Guangzhou to arrive next week. It is also suggested that a tour will next be arranged for Scandinavians.

Thailand's prime minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has stressed that the opening of Thailand's borders to foreign tourists is not a return to mass tourism but a controlled and limited experiment. He said that everyone on the STV plan must agree to comply with the conditions set out by the Thai government. That means all foreign tourists allowed in under the special tourist visa must wear GPS wristbands so that their movements can be closely tracked.

 

 

Updated Last minute reprieve...

Now confirmed that Thailand's visa amnesty will be extended to 31st October.


Link Here28th September 2020
The Bangkok Herald is reporting that Thailand has decided to continue the visa amnesty until 31st October 2020. The report stresses that the information is unconfirmed but the Herald has had a good track record of accurate reports.

The Herald reports that the extension is response with Immigration being unable to cope with the crush of foreigners scrambling to get legal.

According to two independent, unrelated visa agents who were at Immigration's Chaeng Wattana headquarters late Friday, top immigration officials announced that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has approved an extension of the ongoing amnesty until Oct. 31.

As of Saturday, however, no official letter has been sent to the Immigration Bureau, no official announcement made and no notice published in the Royal Gazette. Sources said they expected that letter to forwarded to Immigration on Monday.

Update: Confirmed

28th September 2020. See article from thethaiger.com

A new visa amnesty has been announced by the Thai PM. Foreigners who recently paid 1,900 baht for a 30 day visa extension (before September 26) are now clear to stay in Thailand until November 30 at no extra cost, but those foreigners need to report to immigration to get their visa stamp corrected.

Under the new regulation, 60 day visa extensions will be issued to those who are unable to travel back to their home country. The reasons could be lack of flights, problems with Covid in their home country, medical reasons or something else that prevent you from leaving the country.

Those who received a 30 day extension will need to visit their local immigration office and get the correct stamp that will indicate the new expiration date in their passport, according to a story in The Phuket News. In the past, foreigners have needed to present a letter from their country's embassy requesting an extension, but Immigration Bureau Deputy Commissioner Pornchai Kuntee says letters from embassies may not be needed.

 

 

Or else!...

Accompanied by a rather alarming line up of gun toting paramilitary immigration police, foreigners are warned to get their permission to stay sorted by Saturday


Link Here23rd September 2020
Naew Na reported that Thai immigration was warning foreigners living in Thailand - both tourists and long termers - that they have just a few days to renew their visas.

The coronavirus amnesty extension comes to an end on 26th September.

Deputy commander and spokesman Pol Maj-Gen Surapong Chaiyajan said that immigration chief Pol Lt-Gen Sompong Chingduang was concerned for foreigners stranded in Thailand. But everyone must make sure that their papers are updated ahead of Saturday's deadline.

Tourists can stay on but must present reasons such as sickness or obstacles to returning to their home countries with evidence from embassies. They will be given 30 day extensions if they satisfy immigration. Those with no excuse on short term visas or no visas (TR, TS, VOA) must leave by Saturday 26th September.

Immigration office will be open on Saturday for last minute applications.

 

 

Eyeing a return of foreigners and their money...

Thailand is considering granting permanent residency to foreigners who but a condominium


Link Here17th September 2020
The government's Centre for Economic Situation Administration (CESA) has approved in principle amendments to the criteria of granting permanent residence and smart visa to foreigners in a bid to woo more investment, the National Economic and Social Development Council's deputy secretary-general Danucha Pichayanan said.

The centre is considering the option of granting permanent residence to buyers of condominium units, provided applicants do not mortgage, sell or transfer this asset for five years after purchase.

 

 

Re-opening...

Thailand introduces a 9 month long stay tourist visa to mark a restart of tourism


Link Here15th September 2020
The Thai cabinet has approved a plan to allow foreign tourists to come to Thailand but they'll have to agree to mandatory 14 day quarantine and stay for at least 90 days. The cabinet is hoping the new extended tourist visa will be part of the rebooting of the tourist and hospitality economy.

Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha announced that the government would issue "special tourist visas" for visitors who would have to come for at least 90 days. The new 90 day special tourist visa would be able to be extended twice, for 90 days each time. Long-stay visitors could begin arriving next month.

The new 'STV visas' which will cost 2,000 baht and will last for 90 days each. When expired, a Thai Immigration Office will allow for the visa to be extended 2 times, a cumulative total of 270 days stay. The new visa regulation will be in effect until September 30, 2021 and may be extended beyond that time.

The full details about covid requirements will be released later. The first draft requires visitors to book state approved quarantine hotels and to prove that they have arrange long stay accommodation.

 

 

Needs must...

Thai Government considers a longer stay tourist visa


Link Here9th September 2020
Thailand's cabinet will consider introducing a longer stay tourist visa to encourage a return to tourism once the coronavirus precautions allow.

Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) governor Yuthasak Supasorn explained that the visa will be valid for an initial 90-day stay but can be renewed twice, 90 days each time, for a maximum stay of 270 days. The visa, which costs Bt2,000 per person, is suitable for foreign tourists who want to stay in Thailand for a long time.

He added that plans to allow foreign tourists in must take into account the balance between public health safety, consent from local residents and income by the tourism sector, which accounts for 20% of gross domestic product,

Yuthasak suggested that the government is considering the return of tourism for the 4th quarter of this year, but with a thinking that the numbers won't pick up until the 2nd quarter of 2021.

 

 

The new normal...

Visa arrangements after the end of the visa amnesty on 26th September


Link Here3rd September 2020
Foreigners staying in Thailand on any form of tourist visa will be allowed to repeatedly renew their permits to stay with immigration for periods of 30 days at a time after the visa amnesty ends on Sept 26. However, applicants will have to present a letter from their home country's embassy or consulate in Thailand requesting that the foreign be allowed to continue to temporarily stay in the Kingdom due to lack of exit flights or other circumstances in their home country.

Immigration Deputy Commander Maj Gen Pornchai Khuntee announced the news at a press conference held at the Immigration Bureau headquarters in Bangkok, saying that the Cabinet had approved the move.

All long-term visa holders whose permits to stay expired after Mar 26 also must submit an application for an extension to stay under the normal requirements from now until September 26,,

Many expats on long-term permits-to-stay have families in Thailand, but due to the economic crisis brought on by the government's policies to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are not able to satisfy the Immigration Bureau's income requirement in ordered to be approved a one-year permit-to-stay. At this stage, such long-term expats are set to face being granted only a maximum of 90 day's stay, after which they will be forced to leave the country.

Phuket Immigration Deputy Chief Lt Col Udom Thongchin on Tuesday (Sept 1) urged any foreigners caught out by the income requirement to delay filing their applications to renew their one-year permits-to-stay until Sept 15. Lt Col Udom said he expected Immigration Bureau superiors in Bangkok to make an announcement by then.

 

 

Stay away...

Thai Government says no to the Phuket Model for impossibly restrictive foreign tourism


Link Here28th August 2020
Thailand will not be reopened to foreign tourists along the lines of the so-called Phuket Model any time soon because the government has to consider too many details, deputy government spokesperson Traisulee Traisoranakul said on 28th August.

She added that the government needs to consider many factors, including guidelines, screening processes and measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 to ensure there is no second wave of infections.

According to the Phuket Model, tourists will be allowed to land on the island, but they will have to undergo onerous pre-visit paperwork, get health insurance, get 2 pre-visit virus tests, undergo a 14-day quarantine first and their travel zones will be limited. Entry will also only be limited to tourists from Covid-free countries.

Meanwhile it was revealed that medical tourism, already allowed by the Thai Government since July using the onerous Phuket Model of restrictions, has resulted in just 172 people visiting Thailand so far.

 

 

Updated: Phuket prison island...

Thai government considers allowing tourists to Thailand as long as they spend the first 2 weeks in quarantine hotels in Phuket


Link Here24th August 2020
Thailand will allow foreign tourists to visit for longer stays from October, a senior official said.

Tourists will have to stay for at least 30 days, with the first 14 days in quarantine in a limited vicinity of their hotel, before they can visit other areas, Tourism Authority of Thailand governor Yuthasak Supasorn told Reuters. Yuthasak said: On Oct. 1 we will start in Phuket.

Minister of Tourism and Sports Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said:

Visitors will have to take two coronavirus tests during quarantine before they are able to travel to the rest of the island.

Visitors will have to take an additional test and remain within the province for another week before they can travel to other parts of the country.

The government officials didn't mention the onerous testing and nearly impossible pre-trip paperwork plus insurance requirements currently in place for foreigners travelling to Thailand.

Update: Expecting 2 million

24th August 2020. See article from forum.thaivisa.com

Thai media has reported that Thailand hoping that 2 million tourists will be prepared to follow the massively restrictive paperwork and quarantine measures. It is hope that the 2 million foreign tourists will visit in the period up to the end to March 2021.

Dream on!

 

 

An impossible dream...

Thailand is considering re-opening Thailand for tourists, but wants them to come under ludicrous restrictions


Link Here19th August 2020
Thailand's tourism minister Pipat Ratchakitprakarn has revealed that five ministries will be working together with the aim of opening up Thailand to foreign tourism again from the start of the fourth quarter - October 1st.

The 'travel bubble' plans have been binned and replaced by 'twin country' plans.

Pipat's Ministry of Tourism and Sports and those representing transport, health, foreign affairs and the interior will be meeting on August 27th to iron out what Pipat called a new approach. Pipat cautioned that the reopening of Thailand will come with restrictions. Safety will need to be a priority and the five pronged approach with onerous restrictions will ensure that.

Plans being considered seem to consist of tourists being confined to quarantine hotels, the first week in their rooms and the second week being confined to the hotel grounds.

 

 

High Season's Off...

Thailand's tourism ministry hints that foreign visitors won't be allowed until 2021


Link Here11th August 2020
Thailand is unlikely to reopen its borders to international leisure visitors this year, predicted a deputy governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).

Speaking at a webinar hosted by Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office and TravelMole, Chattan Kunjara Na Ayudhya, deputy governor for international marketing at TAT, said that there has been no talk of or timeline issued for reopening the country to inbound or outbound leisure travel during weekly Covid-19 national meetings.

He added that as part of the government's very, very cautious approach to reopening borders, he does not expect Thailand to welcome leisure visitors until 2021.

 

 

Offsite Article: Tourism workers brace for £37bn blow to Thailand's travel economy...


Link Here 3rd August 2020
The Daily Telegraph reports that the Kingdom's borders remain shut to international travellers

See article from telegraph.co.uk

 

 

The Pattaya Express loses traction...

Less destinations from Pattaya


Link Here30th July 2020
The 101-billion-baht extension of the high-speed train system linking Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueang and U-Tapao airports may not be worth investing in, the State Railway of Thailand has said, citing findings from a market sounding exercise in a feasibility study on the proposed extension.

The entire study into Phase 2 of the high-speed train project which will stretch 190 kilometres long from U-Tapao to Trat province through Rayong and Chanthaburi will be concluded in August, said Suchip Suksawang, the chief engineer of the SRT's special projects and constructions.

Representatives of the chamber of commerce of the provinces concerned have pointed out that the government should rethink the investment plan. They suggested the government take into consideration the fact that demands for the high-speed train service on the planned route extension may not be very high.

 

 

Presumably a return to international travel is not due anytime soon...

Thailand extends its visa amnesty to 26th September


Link Here 21st July 2020
The Thai Cabinet has extended the visa amnesty for foreigners so they can remain in Thailand during the Covid-19 global pandemic. This is the second extension to the visa amnesty and will be a huge relief for tens of thousands of people who have been in a visa limbo, some without many other options other than staying in Thailand whilst international flights remain limited.

A government spokeswoman, Traisuree Taisaranakul, says that the automatic visa extension will now be in force until September 26, as rumoured. Mandatory 90 day reporting for resident foreigners with ongoing visas will also be suspended until September 26.

 

 

Get a visa extension, or get out by 26th September...

Thailand's visa amnesty comes to an end on 31st July but foreigners are given a grace period to get organised


Link Here18th July 2020
Thailand's visa amnesty will come to an end on 31st July. However the government will not be enforcing overstay until 26th September giving people time to organise a visa extension or else to depart from Thailand.

Foreign visitors still stranded in the kingdom by the Covid-19 pandemic will be allowed to apply for an extended short stay after their visas expire on July 31, the Immigration Bureau Lt Gen Sompong Chingduang said:

Foreign tourists who are unable to leave Thailand would be given a grace period from Aug 1 to Sept 26 to apply to stay for a specified period. However, if they do not obtain extensions and are still in the country after Sept 26, they would face legal action and be blacklisted.

He urged foreigners to contact the bureau as soon as possible to prepare for their next steps in order to avoid crowding as the Sept 26 deadline approached. Foreign visitors must specify their reasons and submit necessary documents when seeking to renew short-term visas, which will be granted for 30 days, he said.

If they are unable to return because there are no flights or due to lockdown measures in their countries, they must submit proof. The granting of a short-stay visa will be made on a case-by-case basis.

 

 

Offsite Article: Jumping through hoops...


Link Here14th July 2020
Australian ambassador explains that it could take weeks or months for expats stranded abroad to get back to their wives in Thailand

See article from forum.thaivisa.com

 

 

Ultra Buddha Man...

Thai parliament debates whether art featuring Buddhism should be censored


Link Here13th July 2020
A group of Thai academics and experts told a Parliament committee that crackdowns on arts deemed inappropriate to Buddhism is a danger to Thailand's creativity.

In a meeting with the House Committee of Religions, Arts and Culture, Chulalongkorn University political scientist Bundit Chanrochanakit and fellow panelists advised the government to back off from regulating artistic expression. The meeting was held in the wake of a recent order to erase a temple mural denounced by local officials as blasphemy.

Bundit  pointed to the pressure to remove mural figures at a temple in Uthai Thani that appears to show Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha and his deputy, Prawit Wongsuwan, drowning with demons who attempted to stop Lord Buddha from attaining enlightenment.

The figures were eventually painted over after local officials paid a visit and demanded the censorship.

Bundit cited another case of controversy over artists' interpretation of religious topics: the Ultraman Buddha painting by an art student in September. The artist was forced to apologize after hardline Buddhist officials accused her of disrespect to their religion by depicting Buddha as a Japanese superhero, Ultraman.

 

 

Showing respect respectfully...

Thais school students petition to end the practise of grovelling in school


Link Here10th July 2020
More than 1,000 students of Bangkok's Bodindecha School have signed a petition asking the principal to abolish mandatory prostration -- the act of submissively kneeling or grovelling as a sign of respect. The Bodin Democracy group launched a campaign to demand an end to the practice by encouraging netizens who agree with the cause to use the hashtag #AbolishProstration.

The group says they are not against acts of showing respect, but rather against acts of dehumanisation. The group is calling for the grovelling to be replaced by the wai.

rostration has been a gesture of respect and hierarchy in Thai society for many years. It can still be seen in religious, family, and monarchy-related activities. Thailand's King Chulalongkorn abolished the tradition of prostration back in 1873 but the custom has crept back into fashion during the time of the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

 

 

TM30 location tracking...

TM30 address reporting requirements eased for those doing visa runs on a multi entry visa


Link Here8th July 2020
Thailand's Immigration Bureau have announced an update to the requirement for TM30 reporting.

The new update clarifies when a TM30 report is due under section 38 of the Immigration Act. People with a multi-entry visa or a re-entry permit who make a trip abroad, or a visa run, anf return to the same Thai address as that previously registered with a TM30 do not need to file another TM30. See unofficial translation from Thai Visa:

2.2 After the house holder, owner or possessor of the premise of hotel manager has reported as defined in Article 2.1, the same alien has left the premise and returned for another stay within the valid period, the house holder, owner or possessor of the premise of hotel manager do not need to make another report;

The alien as defined in paragraph one shall include those who being granted multiple-visa who leaves and returns to the Kingdom with specified time in the visa, and those with re-entry permit.

Previously, most immigration offices in Thailand wanted a new TM30 report within 24 hours every time a person left and reentered the country. This change eliminates that requirement.

The latest announcement was posted on the Chiang Mai immigration website and came into effect from 30 June 2020.

 

 

Spy squad...

Thailand is to form a special police unit to track the whereabouts of foreigners


Link Here6th July 2020
The Royal Thai Police is forming a special task force to keep track of tourists lest they get nfected with Covid-19 as Thailand prepares to reopen its airspace to travellers.

The Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) will be in charge of tracking tourists, according to a source. National police chief Chakthip Chaijinda has appointed Pol Lt Gen Sutin Suppuang, commissioner of the CIB to establish a Covid-19 Investigation Division to avoid any potential future outbreaks, the source said. The Covid-19 Investigation Division will contain the spread of the virus, which might enter the country by way of foreign tourists or Thai returnees when the airspace is reopened.

The Covid-19 Investigation Division will mainly involve tourist destinations and transport. Police will be asked to watch over tourists on the rivers and seas and record where they travel. The division will supply information to tourists and enforce compliance with the rules. The highway police may also set up checkpoints along roads to inspect tourists by measuring their temperature and noting their destinations. In addition, the help of investigators to track the travel history of tourists may also be enlisted.

Pol Maj Gen Worapong Thongpaibul, commander of Tourist Police Subdivision 1, said he will also propose the creation of an online application to track tourist movement. He said the app will enable travellers to easily contact the police if they need help and that it can work alongside with another tracking tool, the Thai Chana platform.

Staff will be recruited from the Thai Marine Police Division, Highway Police and Natural Resources and Environment Crime Suppression Division which normally work with the tourism sector. He added that police from the Crime Suppression Division will not be asked to join because they have their hands full.

 

 

Unifying dual pricing...

Reliance on domestic tourism means that the Thai Tourism Authority is not so keen on discounts for Thai visitors


Link Here2nd July 2020
Thai tourism authorities are currently trying to encourage domestic tourism to try and fill the void left by the lack of foreign tourists. Now Thai tourists are traditionally offerered very cheap tickets to national parks and attractions that cost farang visitors significantly more. So domestic tourism leaves parjks and attractions somewhat short of revenue.

So now the Tourism Authority of Thailand have decided that traditional dual pricing is no longer so attractive and presumably would like to see prices increased for Thias.

Speaking at the Foreign Correspondents Club on Wednesday, when asked by popular blogger Richard Barrow, Tanes Petsuwan, the Deputy Governor for Marketing Communications at TAT, said that it does not make sense to charge foreigners more than Thais. Tanes went on to say that while the country is waiting for the return of tourists it is a very good time for Thailand to reform the tourism industry structure. He added:

What we did wrong [in the past] we must make it right this time.

 

 

It's a GoGo Jim but not as we know it...

Thailand confirms that bars will re-open on 1st July


Link Here29th June 2020
From July 1, Thai shopping malls, schools and educational institutes will be able to operate as normal, while bars and entertainment venues will be allowed to reopen only if they possess a valid licence, Dr Taweesin Visanuyothin, spokesman of the government's Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration, said after the committee approved the fifth phase of lockdown relaxation.

Bars, pubs and entertainment venues will be allowed to sell alcoholic beverages, but will have to shut shop at midnight. These night venues are required to ensure customers are seated at least a metre apart, with tables separated by a two-metre space and 1.5-metre-high partitions. Patrons are not allowed to share tables with strangers while servers must wear masks at all times. Furthermore, frequently touched areas, including toilets, must be cleaned regularly, smoking areas clearly marked and the venues properly ventilated.

Entertainment venues are not allowed to launch any promotions just yet as these will trigger crowds. These places must screen each customer, provide hand-sanitising gel, limit customers to five per table, not serve alcoholic beverages in shared containers, and install CCTVs, recordings of which should not be deleted for a month so officers can check the situation periodically. Also, singing and dancing are strictly prohibited.

Each business must register with the ThaiChana platform before reopening.

Meanwhile, massage parlours and spas holding valid licences will be allowed to reopen, though all customers have to check in using the ThaiChana platform and are required to wear a mask at all times, except during a bath. Spas and massage parlours are required to limit the number of customers and have their masseurs/masseuses and other employees checked frequently.

 

 

The end is in sight...

Immigration said to be considering how and when to end the current vias amnesty


Link Here27th June 2020
Discussions have begun in several government departments about the future for foreigners who took advantage of the visa amnesty which ends on 31st July.

Thai authorities are tight-lipped about what may happen afterwards, particularly as flight schedules seem very resticted until at least September.

The situation is equally blurred on the land border front with neighboring countries. An announcement on June 5 stated that MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) migrant workers from Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar had received permission to stay in Thailand until July 31. Although there has been substantial human traffic to and from border posts for migrants working in the construction, fisheries and other industries, tourists from anywhere in the world are banned. This means, for example, that farang cannot renew their visa by land nor make applications for fresh documentation at Thai embassies.

Given these circumstances, some arrangements for the period beyond the current amnesty will need to be announced.

 

 

The New Rulz A-GoGo...

22 new rules for re-opening pubs and bars


Link Here22nd June 2020
Thailand's Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) has decided that pubs, bars and entertainment venues could be allowed to open from July 1 provided they strictly observe following 22 practices:
  • - Controlling the number of patrons to ensure the venue does not get congested;
  • - Checking every customer and staff member's temperature;
  • - Providing alcohol-based hand sanitising gel at all entrances and other areas as necessary;
  • - Ensuring groups are no bigger than five;
  • - Ensuring customers queuing to be seated maintain social distancing;
  • - Ensuring all tables are at least 2 metres apart or are partitioned;
  • - Ensuring seats are at least one metre apart;
  • - Ensuring all venues are properly ventilated;
  • - Only eating and drinking is allowed;
  • - Beverages can only be served individually, and shared jugs or ice buckets are prohibited;
  • - Serving staff are required to wear a mask or face shield at all times;
  • - Stage or performance area must be partitioned, and audience must be at least 2 metres away from the stage;
  • - Event comperes or speakers are required to wear a face shield at all times;
  • - Patrons are not allowed to be loud or walk around the venue if not necessary;
  • - If the sharing of food or beverages cannot be avoided, everyone at the table must be provided with an individual serving spoon or glass;
  • - Toilets must be cleaned every 30 to 60 minutes;
  • - All tables, chairs and frequently touched surfaces must be cleaned regularly;
  • - No sports matches or competitions that will attract large groups of people are allowed;
  • - No video gaming or pub games like pool and darts will be allowed;
  • - Social distancing measures must be observed in smoking areas;
  • - No service personnel or public relations representatives are allowed to sit with customers.

 

 

The end is in sight...

Thai coronavirus committee seems set to allow the re-opening of bars


Link Here21st June 2020
Thai nightlife will soon be back in full swing as a key member of the virus-fighting state agency on Sunday promised to allow pubs, bars, karaoke parlours and other entertainment venues to reopen their doors.

The decision was reached in talks between Nattapol Nakpanit, from the Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA), and representatives of nightlife and musicians. It still needs endorsement, however, by the full-fledged CCSA meeting on Friday.

 

 

Staying safe...

Thai authorities say that flights to Thailand will not resume until September


Link Here20th June 2020
Thailand's Civil Aviation Authority (CAAT) has said it will be September before international flights to and from the country resume. And even then manager Jula Sukhmanop said it would only be a minimal service, if airlines offer one at all.

He was speaking after the CAAT met with Thai and foreign airlines to discuss the way forward after Thai airspace is expected to be fully opened and further restrictions eased. Airlines are reluctant to resume operations before they get clear guidance.

 

 

Bar girls re-employed as waitresses...

Thai 'bars' stay closed but 'restaurants' are allowed to start selling alcohol


Link Here18th June 2020
  There has been an improvement in nightlife as the Thai Government has ended the overnight curfew and allowed restaurants to start selling alcohol.

So of course many bars have now re-opened with a focus on the availability of food, when in fact operations may be more about drink and ladies. GoGos are still firmly closed though, as the licensing system simply does not allow for the illusion of food sales. Unfortunately for the GoGo trade, large nightlife venues in other Asian counties have proved to be the centres of local breakouts of coronavirus.

And of course the moral boundaries between bars with food vs restauranats with beer are being enforced by police raids. But the police are easily persuaded on which side of the line a particular venue lies.

 

 

Thailand is set to allow farang husbands to travel to Thailand...

No doubt with the usual impossibly onerous paperwork and quarantine requirements


Link Here 16th June 2020
Foreigners who are married to a Thai national or who hold permanent residency but who have been stranded overseas due to COVID-19 are set to be given special dispensation to return to Thailand.

During Monday's English language COVID-19 briefing, Deputy Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Natapanu Nopakun, said that a meeting took place on 15th June with various government agencies who are now coordinating to allow more foreigners to enter Thailand. Natapanu confirmed that among the next group to be allowed to enter Thailand are those married to Thai nationals and those who hold permanent residency.

Specific details regarding the return of this group is expected to be announced at a later date.

 

 

Social caging for visitors...

Thailand considers extreme restictions for foreign visitors


Link Here15th June 2020
One thousand foreign visitors are expected to be allowed entry to Thailand per day and the standard 14-day Covid-19 quarantine rule will be waived, according to an implementation plan for travel bubbles to be submitted for the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA)'s approval on Wednesday.

These visitors, who in the beginning will be mostly business people and patients seeking medical treatment in Thailand, must come as part of bilateral cooperation on tourism between Thailand and selected countries which have managed to contain the coronavirus, according to Traisuree Taisaranakul, a government spokeswoman.

Covid-19 screening tests will be required both before the visitors leave their countries and upon arriving in Thailand, she said.

This, however, doesn't mean the visitors will be able to travel freely while in Thailand as they will still be prohibited from visiting certain parts of the country and will be tracked via a smart phone application, she said.

Final details of the programme are being discussed by the Tourism and Sports Ministry, Public Health Ministry, Interior Ministry and Foreign Ministry.

Meanwhile, Narongchai Khunpluem, mayor of Saen Suk municipality in Chon Buri's Muang district, said those who continue to flout the ban on drinking alcohol on the beach will now face a fine after previous warnings have fallen on deaf ears. He wrote on his Facebook page.

There they did it again, drinking alcohol on the beaches despite all these warnings. So they deserve to be fined, don't they?

 

 

Dry politics...

Thailand set to reopen nearly all businesses except bars


Link Here11th June 2020
The Thai government has now released the lock down on nearly all businesses except bars and soapy massages. Presumably the basis for this is more moralism than publich health considerations.

The news follows a meeting of a committee under the government's Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA). Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha chaired the meeting at Government House on Thursday. The CCSA will decide on the business lockdown easing on Friday.

A source said that Gen Prayut agreed to lift the 11pm-3am curfew so that people could return to their normal life. Almost all businesses would be allowed to resume except pubs, bars, karaoke shops and bath-sauna-massage parlours.

 

 

Welcome back...

Thailand promises to end all lockdown measures from 1st July, including international travel


Link Here28th May 2020
The government has set July 1 for the lifting of all coronavirus lockdown measures.

These include interprovincial and international travel, as well as the end of emergency decree and curfew.

NSC secretary-general Gen Somsak Rungsita said that the lifting of restrictions would be a complete reopening of the country. but added:

People's cooperation is important. This concerns the use of face masks, social distancing, hand wash and limited activities. As long as the disease is spreading worldwide, we will have to fight against it for a while.

 

 

True Censorship...

Miserable Thai ISP blocks Pornhub, an important entertainment source during lockdown


Link Here26th May 2020
The major Thai ISP True Online said Monday it restricted access to PornHub website. The company confirmed the censorship in a tweet:

We have restricted access to PornHub because it has inappropriate content.

It's no secret that Thai internet providers employ a method of censorship that would have caused riots in the Western countries: blocking pornographic content involving consenting adults and any other material ordered by the authorities.

Netizens reacted to the company's statement with mockery, while many resorted to the traditional way of expressing internet outrage -- calling for a boycott of True. eg in tweets:

  • True Online, can't we be horny?

  • The point is not whether PornHub is moral or immoral, but what rights allow True to decide whether it is appropriate?

In response to the netizens' fury, the company later walked back its statement a few hours later, saying that the website was not indeed blocked. However, some users reported that the website is still inaccessible as of Tuesday.

 

 

Trust is earned not self proclaimed...

Thailand's tourist authority is set to update its promotional slogan to 'Amazing Trusted Thailand'


Link Here19th May 2020
It is a subtlety of the English language that adjectives of praise are reserved for opinions about someone else. To use them to describe oneself rather suggests arrogance, irony or even dishonesty.

And so maybe it doesn't seem a very good idea for the authorities to replace their 'Amazing Thailand' slogan with 'Amazing Trusted Thailand'.

Thailand plans to re-brand tourism in the post-coronavirus era to Amazing Trusted Thailand, aimed at selective markets and destinations in the country that can guarantee health and safety standards for both tourists and locals.

Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) governor Yuthasak Supasorn described a most unappetizing proposal:

We estimate international markets will return in October, so all related agencies are working on a proper recovery plan that won't risk a second wave of the pandemic after our proven record of effective virus control during the first wave.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha suggested we use this opportunity to rebrand Thai tourism as a quality destination where we care more about trust than carrying capacity.

Islands such as Phuket or Samui may be the first batch of destinations to welcome international tourists as their geography allows authorities to more easily control and keep track of tourists.

Thailand is looking at high spenders within the region, such as Singapore, China and Vietnam, to visit designated areas in Thailand under a quota.

These tourists can visit selected destinations without being subjected to 14-day quarantine measures, but they have to provide health certification, fit-to-fly certificates and buy health insurance before visiting Thailand, while rapid testing will be available upon arrival.

 

 

Offsite Article: Mall adjusted...


Link Here18th May 2020
Thai shopping malls reopen but with ludicrous requirements to sign in and out of each shop

See article from forum.thaivisa.com

 

 

Locked out in lockdown...

Thailand introduces its own coronavirus tracking app


Link Here15th May 2020
The Thai government will launch a new mobile phone app to facilitate disease-control tracking of customers as shops reopen with the easing of the coronavirus lockdown.

Taweesilp Visanuyothin, spokesman for the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration, said  that shop owners would register online for a QR code that would be placed in front of their shop.

Customers would use their mobile phone to scan the code as they enter and leave the premises.

Taweesilp said the Thai Chana app would serve 70-80% of people based on the number of mobile phone users, who account for 70-80% of Thailand's population. He added:

Young children and elderly people who do not use mobile phones will be able to use manual registration.

The app would facilitate the government's attempts to quickly track people infected with Covid-19 and those in close contact with them.

Dr Polawat Witoolkollachit, inspector-general of the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society, said the new app would be launched on Friday, along with details of how to register. All kinds of shops could use it, including street vendors.

 

 

Are you insured against insurance companies refusing to pay out?...

Thailand considers an insurance fee on all visitors to cover such eventualities


Link Here 13th May 2020
The Thai tourist authority has announced another plan to charge all visitors for medical insurance. The charge is likely to be about 300 baht per visit which could bring in revenue of 12 billion baht annually should tourism return to pre-covid levels.

Details are sketchy at the moment but the fee, if approved by the Thai Cabinet, would likely be added to the cost of the air ticket as a supplement. Visitors by sea and land would likely have to pay at the border or port.

A government spokesman spoke mainly of the threat posed by the virus and the need to reduce the problem of foreigners seeking medical treatment in Thailand without proper financial cover, occurring when people either don't have insurance or else the insurers are refusing to pay up with get out clauses in the small print.

 

 

You may want to avoid going to Phuket in Thailand...

A coronavirus check will include, facial recognition, providing personal information, a check against criminal records, a check on the car, and an app with location tracking to keep tabs on your whereabouts in Phuket


Link Here12th May 2020
Phuket is a holiday island in Thailand that is accessed by road via a single bridge to the mainland. In the name of coronavirus monitoring the Phuket authorities have introduced an horribly invasive computerised checkpoint on the bridge.

The check on people crossing the bridge will include a temperature check with a facial recognition detection system connected with the public health database. In the case detection of a traveller has contracted the Covid-19 virus, police will be alerted at the checkpoints along with National Emergency Notification Center staff.

But that is just the beginning of it. The Phuket Smart Check Point will also include scanning for suspect vehicles involved in crimes, and checking the traveller's criminal record.

The Check Point will also require travellers to register and supply personal information. This will be kept on record for subsequent crossings and will be used for unspecified analysis by the authorities, including for the suppression of crime.

The system comes with an app that can be used as a tracking device allowing authorities to see where your current location is in the province.

 

 

The European holiday trade 'may be gone some time'...

Major European holiday company is seeking to defer payments to hotels for rooms occupied in the high season just gone


Link Here9th May 2020
Hotels in Thailand, particularly in Phuket and some surrounding regions, have been hit with a double whammy. First the whole Covid-19-related wipe-out, now a cash-flow problem brought about after the TUI Group -- an Anglo-German multinational travel and tourism company -- has stalled repayments for hotel rooms occupied in the high season just gone.

The amount owed to Thailand hotels is believed to exceed 2 billion baht. TUI is in the top three tour operators in Thailand and brings in significant numbers of tourists from Germany, Scandinavia and Britain. There are at least 2,000 hotels in Thailand who partner with TUI.

TUI Group has sent letters to hotels asking to delay repayment on debt. That's pushed 12 tourism associations in Thailand to file a complaint with the government asking for help to resolve the situation. The unpaid rooms are for the January-March quarter.

Different hotel operators receive slightly varied conditions from TUI based on their locations and contracts but most have been asked to accept 25% of the owed monies within 10 days after signing a new contract, while the remaining debt will be paid when TUI's business is back to normal. The lack of any defined debt repayment timeline is another concern for the hotels who wallow around in financial limbo.

 

 

Creating a panic...

Prayut surely will lengthen supermarket alcohol queues by threatening to re-ban alcohol


Link Here6th May 2020
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has  spooked Thai people into panic buying and stockpiling of alcohol. n

He responded to  people crowding stores to purchase alcohol, by imposing limits on the quantities and times when alcohol can be bought. He said:

I have complained and issued new controls on the sale of alcoholic beverages. Now there are limitations on how many bottles can be sold and during what hours, so this does not happen again, the premier said.

He also warned that if people still crowd stores to purchase booze, the government will once again impose a ban.

 

 

True censorship...

Thailand advertises for the job of international news censor for cable and satellite TV


Link Here27th April 2020
Full story: Lese Majeste in Thailand...Criticising the monarchy is a serious crime
TrueVisions is the dominant pay TV provider for Thai cable and satellite TV. The company broadcasts all foreign news channels with an annoying 5 minute delay so that a Thai news censor can hit the 'censor' button should the channel report about a sensitive news topic.

Now the True company seems to have got in a spot of bother by openly posting a job listing for an international news censor on the nation's biggest job site.

TrueVisions has been criticized for its post on JobsDB for an employee to monitor inappropriate news from 17 foreign news channels and talk shows and report them to superiors.

According to the job post, any content deemed to violate Article 112 of the Criminal Code, the section known as lese majeste, which makes criticism of the royal family punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

The job listing did not indicate salary or other information about the job. Today, it had been replaced by a message reading , We're very sorry. This job no longer exists.

 

 

Safely locked down in Thailand...

Thailand extends visa amnesty by 3 months


Link Here22nd April 2020
The Thai government has announced a second automatic visa extension for foreigners who are stranded in the country by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Foreigners whose visa expired after March 26 will be permitted to stay until July 31 without having to apply for an extension. There is no need to submit documents, pay fees or do 90-day reporting.

 

 

Visa amnesty announced...

Thailand puts an end to its disgraceful covid queues at immigration offices


Link Here8th April 2020
The Thai prime minister has signed an order granting a visa amnesty for visitors whose entries that have expired or are set to expire from the 26th March until the 30th April. Overstay fines will not be levied for this period but any overstay fines accumulated until the 26th March will still need to be paid.

This process is automatic and foreigners no longer need to go to immigration offices.

90 day reporting is also suspended until further notice.

The order appears on the immigration website in English as follows:

Announcing the latest visa relief measures on 7 April 2020

The person whose visas has expired from 26th of March 2020 will be automatically extended to 30th of April 2020. There is no need to apply for a visa extension at Immigration Office for this period and will not be fined THB 500 per day for this case.

Aliens who are due for 90 days reports between 26th of March 2020 and 30th of April 2020 are temporarily exempted from reporting in this period until further notice.

Aliens who are holding Border Passes will be allowed to stay in Thailand for now. However, Aliens with Border Passes must depart Thailand within 7 days of the border crossing points opening date.

Aliens are advised to follow announcements regarding Immigration measures closely for updates. (Currently measures announced until 30 April 2020 or further updates)

 

 

Updated: Thai immigration reprehensibly piles on the documentation requirements...

Good luck in getting your landlord to join you in a 2 hour virus endangering queue at immigration for an emergency visa extension


Link Here 5th April 2020

Nine separate documents are now required for foreigners stranded in Thailand to extend their stay for up to 30 days, the immigration said Thursday.

Immigration spokesman Phakkhaphong Saiubon defended the inconvenience on the grounds of national security. New requirements include land deeds, rent contracts, and even selfies of foreigners with their accommodations, even as scenes of disarray and massive queues at immigration continue unabated.

Indeed, we are requiring more documents than usual because there are those who want to exploit the opportunity, Col. Phakkhaphong said.

Apart from the usual TM7 application, copies of their passport, and applicant's photos, the new rule requires a certificate from their respective embassies, a copy of rent contract, document confirming their stay at the accommodation, a copy of landlord's ID card and house registration, and a map showing the location of their residence.

The landlord is required to accompany the applicant in person when submitting the documents. The applicant must also take at least four photos with their accommodation to prove their residency.

It has been reported that holders of tourist visas that entered after March 1st are spared the nine document ordeal but there won't be many that qualify.

Petition: Appeal for Thai government to provide 2 two month extension of stay to all foreigners

3rd April 2020. See petition from change.org

We respectfully ask the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kingdom of Thailand to use their influence to ask the Immigration Bureau to offer an automatic two month extension of stay to all foreigners in Thailand whose visa is about to expire. This so that foreigners can stay safe and adhere to the social distancing rules instructed by the Thai government AND equally as important that the Thai teams at Immigration also stay safe.

Sign petition from change.org

Update: A report from dangerous crowds at Koh Samui Immigartion

5th April 2020. See article from nationthailand.com

Tourists stranded in Koh Samui were treated badly by Immigration officials, a German tourist has complained. He said that he and other tourists had to be in a crowded office at the Immigration centre in Koh Samui to apply for visa extension. He said:
Thailand is taking advantage of tourist by forcing them to come and extend their visas for money, while all reasonable countries in the world extend the visa automatically for a certain date.

The tourist provided a photo from the immigration office taken on Friday 3rd April 2020.

 

 

Pattaya goes into extreme lockdown...

No mention of emergency help for closed business and lost incomes


Link Here3rd April 2020
In response to the SARS 2 pandemic, Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha has announced that a nationwide curfew will be imposed daily from Friday, April 3rd at 22:00 until 04:00 hours.

But Pattaya will be going into even deeper lockdown as dictated by the Chonburi provincial governor. He has announced 10 new lockdown rules:

1. Each district sets up their own taskforce to ensure compliance with the regulations

2. Hotels and other accomdations are to close down and employees are to stay at the hotels, and not leave Chonburi to go home. Hotels that still have guests were given three days to decide whether to close down or stay open. If they stay open, no new guests are allowed.

3. Pattaya will be sealed off. No one will be allowed to go in or out. Checkpoints will decide on special cases.

4. All beaches in Chonburi are to close to any social gathering but swimming is still allowed.

5. Gas stations are to close between 10 pm and 5 am.

6. Some markets ordered to close.

7. People are asked to observe an 11pm to 5 am curfew (a rule superceded by the national curfew)

8. Certain commercial businesses are to be ordered shut.

9. There are to be no assemblies at reservoirs.

10. Male and female hairdressers can remain open for haircutting only. All tattooists and nail salons are to shut.

 

 

Extended visas are better than extended queues...

Thailand looks set to lighten up visa extension for visitors trapped by travel restrictions


Link Here30th March 2020
The Immigration Bureau has proposed allowing foreigners who have had their travel plans disrupted by COVID-19 to extend their visas to 30 June 2020.

Currently, Immigration is giving foreigners who are unable to fly back to their home countries or to another destination a 30 day extension of stay, providing they can provide a visa extension letter from their embassy.

The proposal was submitted to the Cabinet for consideration last week but it is not known if it will be approved.

The news comes after Immigration offices nationwide have been inundated with foreigners desperately trying to extend their visas after being left stranded in Thailand.

 

 

Stay away...

Thailand is shut to visitors


Link Here26th March 2020
Foreign visitors have been barred from entering Thailand after a state of emergency has come into effect.The ban applies to all ports of entry -- land, air or sea -- with limited exceptions for the likes of diplomats. Foreign residents with work permits are allowed to return to Thailand but there are onerous documentation requirements for a negative covid lab test and health insurance.

The emergency also means that public assembly of large groups is forbidden, as is news coverage the government deems untrue, incites panic or threatens national security. Elderly Thais are instructed to stay home except for essential trips such as to see a doctor or buy food.

Domestic travel restrictions are not nationally enacted but provincial governors can set their own rules.

 

 

No compassion: Rules is rules...

Thai Immigration will give 30 day extensions for all foreigners stranded in Thailand as long as you jump through hoops. Those that don't will be fined


Link Here24th March 2020
Thai Immigration has published an emergency document stating that 30 day extensions will be available for foreigners stranded in Thailand by the covid-19 crisis.

The most straight forward cases are for those with tourist visas or 30 day visa exempt entries.

Those on non immigrant visas still need to obtain a letter from their embassies stating that the foreigner is stranded.  For British citizens this letter may be obtained by email. See article from gov.uk

There is also a catch all extension for those that don't qualify under the above. This seem to require authorisation from a high ranking police officer though.

Update: Immigration won't let go of overstay fines

24th March 2020. See article from thephuketnews.com

Phuket Immigration Deputy Chief Lt Col Udom Thongchin told The Phuket News on 23rd March that foreigners needing to stay in Thailand, or unable to travel home, need to obtain a letter from their embassy requesting the Thai Immigration Bureau to allow them to extend their stay in the country.

If a foreigner's permit to stay is about to expire and they cannot get a letter from their embassy, or their embassy refuses to issue them a letter, we have no regulation that can help them, Lt Col Udom explained. We can only wait for any new policies to come from the Immigration Bureau in Bangkok, he said.

My advice is for foreigners to urge their embassies to issue them a letter requesting a 30-day extension. If their visas expire, they will be charged for B500 a day overstay in accordance with the law, Lt Col Udom confirmed.

 

 

Extended emergency...

Phuket Immigration to give 30 day extensions to stranded farangs as long as they jump through a hoop of getting an embassy letter


Link Here21st March 2020
On Wednesday the Tourism Minister said that he'd been discussing the problem of overstaying tourists and visitors, due to a lack of flights or border closures in their home countries, with Thailand's immigration officials. Now some immigration offices are announcing an official clemency.

In Phuket, foreigners stranded in Thailand due to the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak may apply to Phuket Immigration for a 30 day visa extension to avoid the need to travel.

The extensions will cost the standard 1,900 each. But it's not quite as simple as all that. Udom said that any foreigners seeking to extend their visas will require a letter from the embassy or consulate of their home country.

The letter must be from the embassy or consulate requesting that the Royal Thai Police Immigration Bureau allow the foreigner to stay in the country longer. It must name the foreigner and it must have the sentence that the foreigner 'is unable to travel due to the COVID-19 coronvirus situation.' It must be an actual letter, hand over with a copy of their passport at the Phuket Immigration Office during office hours.

 

 

Updated: Closed...

The authorities have closed Pattaya bars as a measure against coronavirus


Link Here17th March 2020
Thailand's public health minister and deputy PM Anutin Charnvirakul has told a press conference that the Public Health Ministry will suggest additional precautions to the government and Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Monday, including the temporary closure of bars and entertainment venues, including nightclubs, concerts, live music venues and other venues where people congregate.

Anutin says these measure would be to help prevent the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus , and would be based on zone-by-zone decisions by the government and coronavirus response teams.

Anutin announced several other measures will be suggested to the PM, to include potential limitation of travel for Songkran and enforced cancellation of private cultural and local festivals.

 

Update: Songkran postponed

16th March 2020. See article from nationthailand.com

A meeting of the Covid-19 Administration Centre, chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, approved a motion to postpone the Songkran holidays from April 13-15 to later dates. The meeting cited the reason of increasing social distance and minimising public movement both domestically and internationally.

The new date for Songkran will be announced later.

On the topic of bar clsoures, the government agreed to close all venues with a capacity for more than 50 people, such as entertainment premises, boxing stadiums, and universities, and the topic will be discussed agaon on 17th March.

 

Update: Closed

17th March 2020. See article from thepattayanews.com

The Provincial Government of Banglamung and Chonburi have ordered, effective from March 18th, 2020, that all entertainment venues must close until March 31st, 2020.

This effects ALL bars, cinemas, sports venues, karaoke bars, nightclubs, gogos, beer bars, massage parlors, Gentlemen clubs, etc. This is regardless of the size of the venue or bar.

It does NOT effect restaurants, malls or shops which may stay open, but must ensure proper hygiene measures and at least one meter between patrons.

The Pattaya News notes this is also NOT a lockdown, people are free to move about as normal.

So now the Pattaya GoGo count stands at zero for the forseeable future.

 

 

Thailand puts the shutters up to most tourists...

No more visas on arrival and a mandatory tracking app for the rest


Link Here12th March 2020
The government has decided to suspend Visa on Arrival (VoA) for visitors from 18 countries at a meeting on March 11, chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, also head of the Covid-19 management centre.

Countries affected are Bulgaria, Bhutan, China (include Taiwan) , Cyprus, Ethiopia, Fiji, Georgia, India, Kazakhstan, Malta, Mexico, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, and Republic of Vanuatu.

All visitors to Thailand should contact the Thai embassy in their countries prior to travel. The cancellation of visa-free entry also applies to high-risk countries ( Italy, South Korea) and Hong Kong).

Starting from tomorrow (March 12 ), all foreign tourists arriving at all international airports in Thailand will be required to download an AOT Airports application onto their mobile phones. The requirement also applies to Thai returnees from high risk countries.

Once the app is downloaded, they will have to fill in the required information - name, surname, passport ID , mobile phone number, e-mail address and present them to the immigration officials on duty . The information will be stored for 14 days after arrival.

In the case of a virus-infected person, the information given will enable related state agencies to trace contacts.

There are n mentions of what happens if a traveller does not have a mobile phone, or a current data package.

 

 

True Moves on Tesco...

Tesco Lotus sold to 7 Eleven


Link Here9th March 2020
UK retailer Tesco has agreed to sell its Tesco Lotus operation in Thailand and Malaysia for ($10.6bn) £8bn.

The supermarket chain has 2,000 stores across both countries, under the Tesco Lotus brand, and is selling them to Thai conglomerate CP Group, perhaps most well known locally for its 7 Eleven convenience store network and the True telecoms company.

Tesco revealed in December it had received interest for its Asian stores, which employ about 60,000 people, but did not reveal the bidders.

The proposed sale was unanimously agreed by the Tesco board, but needs approval from shareholders and regulators. The deal is set to be finalised in the second half of this year.

 

 

A bit of a dampener for Thai tourism...

UAE bans travel to Thailand over Chinese flu


Link Here25th February 2020
The UAE has issued a travel ban to Thailand and Iran following the outbreak of coronavirus.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation issued a statement on Monday banning its citizens from travelling to Thailand and Iran due to concerns of the COVID-19 outbreak in both countries.

UAE citizens currently in these countries are requested to contact the UAE Embassy or the Ministry's call centre on 800 44444, and register on the ministry's 'Tawajudi' service.

The news comes after Kuwait's civil aviation authority also on Monday announced it was suspending all flights to and from Thailand. Kuwait also suspended flights between Iraq, Italy and South Korea.

One has to wonder why Thailand has been singled out. The official count of 37 cases is not notably high.

Emirates airlines is based in Dubai in the UAE and is often use d by European visitors too.

 

 

Location tracking changes...

Thai Immigration relaxes address reporting requirement that wasn't in force in Pattaya anyway


Link Here21st February 2020
Thailand has some tracking and address reporting laws that would be considered extreme in an Orwellian state. Foreigners are required to report their where abouts to the immigration police within 24 hours of moving to another location (using form TM28). In addition Thai hotels or accommodation owners are also required to report the comings and goings of foreigners to immigration police also within 24 hours (using form TM30).

In fact in Pattaya/Chonburi only this 2nd requirement has been enforced by the police, but with the unjust tweak that the foreigner is forced to pay the fines of the Thai accommodation owners should the TM30 not be sent to the police.

Now Thailand has announced that TM28 is no longer required. In fact Immigration has not formally revoked the requirement, just made more or less everyone exempt.

But for all the fanfare the TM30 location reporting requirement is still very much in force. Saying that immigration do seem to have relaxed on the concept of holding foreigners responsible for the failures of the property owners to comply.

 

 

A bit worrying...

Thai Government asks provincial health offices to stop publishing the numbers of people infected with coronavirus


Link Here30th January 2020
The health office in Chiang Mai said on Monday (January 27) that the Public Health Ministry had instructed provincial health offices to stop reporting the numbers of suspected and confirmed coronavirus cases and wait for the official announcement from the ministry after China announced a ban of all flight to the province after February 7.

There are 19 direct flights daily from China to Chiang Mai, according to airport authority.

 

 

Offsite Article: Forgive and forget...


Link Here28th January 2020
Full story: Thai TV Censorship...Kissing and catfights make the news whilst booze and fags are blurred
Thai TV drama series (lakorn) are very un-PC about sex and violence

See article from scmp.com

 

 

Get Smart...

Another case of Immigration police getting heavy handed over a trivial overstay


Link Here18th January 2020
Naew Na has published a new report from Pattaya in which immigration's much heralded 'Smart Car' was used in the arrest of a foreigner on a one week overstay.

In the first story Pol Col Naren Khreuangsanuk sent in his officers to the Moo 10, Nong Prue area of Pattaya where they saw a foreigner supposedly acting suspiciously.

The 'smart car' apparently equipped with a computing equipment which was used to look up the guys immigration status and found that he was on a 7 day overstay.

The Omani man was handed over to the local police for 'processing'.

 

 

Walking ATMs with a chip on the shoulder...

Old magnetic strip ATM cards will become invalid next week


Link Here10th January 2020
The deadline for switching from magnetic ATM cards to chip cards is coming closer and after January 15, all magnetic cards will become invalid, Siritida Panomwon na, assistant governor of Ayudhya, Bank of Thailand said. The new cards are also notable for requiring a 6 digit rather than the usual 4 digit PIN.

The switch was expected to be completed by the end of 2019, as 47 million magnetic cards had already been converted to chip cards, leaving some 20 million magnetic cards nationwide.

Magnetic cards holders can change their cards at any branch of their respective banks or financial institutions free of charge. Required documents are ID card, existing magnetic card and bank passbook, said the assistant governor.

After January 15, magnetic cards will be unusable at ATMs and credit card machines at retail shops. However, card owners can still make a cash withdrawal or transfer money at bank's tellers, via mobile banking and internet banking as alternatives.

 

 

Don't sweat...

The Thai prime minister has an idea. He asks people to shower less ahead of an impending drought


Link Here8th January 2020
It could be the worst seasonal drought for four decades according to the Office of National Water Resources.

Speaking to the Bangkok Post, ONWR secretary-general Somkiat Prajamwong recalled that during the severe drought in 2015 (when Thailand was under military rule), soldiers were sent to protect wells from indiscriminate pumping by local villagers irrigating their farms.

The ONWR was created two years ago to address the country's water issues and challenges, and is in charge of water resource management and coordinating policies and goals across 20 state agencies.

Thailand's dry season started in November and usually lasts through April, although this year authorities say it could go on through June. Thailand's Central region is predicted to be the hardest hit by the looming drought, focussed on the 22 provinces along the Chao Phraya River. Somkiat also predicts farmland will be affected because the amount of land for farming has risen by 3 million rai in recent years.

Last week, Bangkok's water authority said the capital's tap water was becoming saline as seawater pushed up the depleted Chao Phraya river, a source of much of central Thailand's water.

Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha on Tuesday urged people to turn off taps and shower less to cope with a drought afflicting northern and central Thailand.

 

 

Single use brain cells...

Thai TV blurs out another social vice. First it was booze and fags...and now it's plastic bags


Link Here4th January 2020
Full story: Thai TV Censorship...Kissing and catfights make the news whilst booze and fags are blurred
Most national retailers in Thailand have just stopped handing out free plastic carrier bags to shoppers on January 1st

In the run up to the big day Thai TV added plastic bags to their list of social vices that must be optically censored, previously guns, alcoholic drinks, and cigarettes.

Perhaps the TV companies would have more of an effect blurring out cars, motorbikes, airplanes, air conditioners and meat.

Anyway the censorship has caused much derision on social media and the Thai environment minister stepped in to support the censorship.

National Resources and Environment Minister Varawut Silpa-archa said it was easy for the online community to criticise this act of self-censorship by TV stations. He defended the broadcasters' "well intentioned" efforts by comparing it to the censorship of alcohol and cigarettes.

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