Thailand Tightens Border Restrictions, Suspends Most Quarantine-free Entry

Travelers who arrive now will have to enter into a mandatory hotel quarantine for seven to 10 days.

Thailand suspended quarantine-free entry for visitors on Wednesday amid the spread of the omicron variant, but will still allow tourists to go to Phuket.

The country temporarily suspended its Test & Go program, according to the Tourism Authority of Thailand, which allowed certain travelers to skip quarantine if they showed proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken before departure and got tested again upon arrival. Travelers who arrive now will have to enter into a mandatory hotel quarantine for seven to 10 days, Reuters reported.

"Thailand's Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) today ordered [temporary] suspension of the Thailand Pass for all new TEST&GO and Sandbox applications (except Phuket Sandbox)... citing the rising number of Omicron variant cases in the country," the tourism authority wrote.

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However, there are two major exceptions to the new border restrictions. Travelers who enter the Phuket Sandbox, as well as travelers who had already been approved and received a Thailand Pass QR code, will be allowed to enter quarantine-free but will be tested twice with a PCR test.

As of Dec. 16, to enter the sandbox program, travelers must be vaccinated, show a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of traveling, get tested multiple times in-country, book a week-long stay at an approved hotel, and have proof of insurance that covers at least $50,000 in potential expenses.

The decision to impose further restrictions comes a day after Thailand reported its first known case of community transmission of the omicron variant, Reuters noted. As of Wednesday, Thailand recorded a total of 2,532 new cases, the tourism authority tweeted.

The measures are expected to be reviewed on Jan. 4.

"This is not to shut off tourists but to temporarily suspend arrivals," a government spokesman told the wire service.

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.

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