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Richard Barrow, famous Thailand travel writer, says his gut instinct indicates that the country's prohibition on international flights may be expanded when it ends at the end of June.
Finding questions from foreigners who are desperately searching for ways to reunite in Thailand with their families, he suggests that they may have to wait months for Thailand to return.
Many of them are work-permit holders, or live on one-year retirement or marriage visas in Thailand. The sudden ban on foreign travel left them stuck overseas incapable of booking flights to reunite with their Thailand-based relatives.
They were trapped overseas when Thailand's Civil Aviation Authority introduced a ban on international flights landing in Thailand on 3 April, and later when the CAAT extended the ban until 30 June.
Banning international flights except for Thais repatriation allows the authority to test arriving Covid-19 passengers and to ensure that the 14-day quarantine requirement does not overwhelm the available accommodation pool.
While the travel industry hopes desperately that CAAT will take its hand off the brake and allow the resumption of international flights, 1 July, Barrow points to the backlog of Thai nationals overseas who are still waiting for repatriation flights.
More than 8,000 Thais entered repatriation flights home in May but 40,000 are already pending demands for repatriation. Barrow says just dealing with Thais stranded overseas is a long queue. They could find the quarantine cycle daunting.
"When are foreigners going to be allowed back into Thailand? No-one knows for sure that a decision has not yet been made. But we can make some educated guesses, "Barrow says on his Facebook post to the general public.
He points out that Thai nationals are currently only allowed to land in Thailand by airlines offering repatriation flights.
"Sadly, such flights are not permitted to foreigners with Thai families. It is because the limit is monthly, so thousands of Thais are always waiting to be repatriated.
Currently, the only foreigners who have a decent chance to travel to Thailand are diplomats, and holders of work permits, even if commercial flights reopen. So should it expand the flight restriction again?
Taking Barrow's gut feeling assessment, the odds favor extending the flight ban at least until July if for no other reason than to ensure repatriation flight backlog can be cleared before commercial travel reboots and more stringent entry rules such as mandatory PCR swab testing and 14-day quarantine apply.
Barrow points out that "even if they reverse the ban on international flights to Thailand on 1 July, only diplomats and foreigners holding a work permit are identified on the travel authorisation list. No-one knows when this list will be updated to include other categories of travellers. It can be months.'
So, if you're an optimist, you may take heart when Barrow says "the earliest foreigners would be welcomed back to Thailand is July 1 now."
But pessimists may note that diplomats and holders of work permits are the only eligible categories on the approval list of foreign travellers based on the current emergency decree.
"Tourists and citizens who want other visas to access Thailand may not be allowed to join until later," he says.
Barrow 's remarks won't work well with the tourism sector, which, while considering regeneration, is fluffing about these realistic information. It wants everyone to throw the switch in one fast push from lockout to open house, although the government explicitly supports a staggered reopening of its travel boundaries. A gradual
reopening gives it time to set up and manage stricter health and entry measures, possibly to facilitate only essential travel in the first place.
We believe that in July, the government would ring the bell for tourism to restart in full, although the evidence indicate that Thailand's tourism might be seriously curtailed by laws and safety recommendations before a vaccine or cure could be on the market in mid-2021.
That is not exactly the outcome we had foreseen when we first met Covid-19 late January. Back in January, by the end of June we all felt this war should be fought and dusted. Now we learn that the Covid-19 problem is not a fast remedy.
See https:/twitter.com/RichardBarrow for information about Richard Barrow
Or visit the http:/www.richardbarrow.com websitea