Masks no longer mandatory in Thailand as tourist entry rules eased

In response to a slower COVID-19 spread, Thailand declared on Friday that it would drop its much-criticised pre-registration process for foreign tourists and would no longer need face masks to be worn in public.

The “Thailand Pass” system, which requires foreign travelers to get permission from Thai officials ahead of time, will be phased out starting July 1, Tourism Minister Pipat Ratchakitprakan said, erasing one of the country’s last remaining travel restrictions.

Thailand is one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, but tourism businesses have long complained that the country’s requirement that foreign visitors submit a slew of documents, ranging from vaccination and swab test certificates to medical insurance and hotel reservations, is slowing the industry’s recovery.

Thailand attracted roughly 40 million visitors in 2019, but just 1% of that number visited last year, despite lowering quarantine rules.

Though tourism has improved in recent months, the industry is still far from recovery, with massive employment and company losses in a sector that contributes for approximately 12% of Thailand’s GDP.

The coronavirus task group also said on Friday that wearing face masks will be optional starting next month, but that they should be used in crowded areas or if you have a health issue.

Thailand has lost over 30,000 people to COVID-19, although the disease has been substantially confined thanks to a vaccination rate of more than 80%.

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