Thailand to drop mask rule, foreign tourist registration
Thailand announced on June 17 that it would drop rules requiring people to wear masks outdoors and no longer require foreign visitors to register before travel, as Covid-19 cases fall and the kingdom seeks to lure tourists back.
Face masks have been compulsory in public in Thailand, including outdoors, since mid-2021 when the Delta variant was running rampant.
But as the pandemic has subsided, the tourism-dependent kingdom has gradually relaxed covid restrictions in a bid to boost visitor numbers.
Thailand's relaxation on face masks comes after similar moves by regional peers including Cambodia and Singapore.
Taweesin Visanuyothin, spokesman for the Thai Covid taskforce, said wearing masks outside would become voluntary, but was still recommended in crowded areas, entertainment venues, and on public transport.
He said the health ministry would announce further details of the mask relaxation, including when it would come into force.
On July 1 the government will also end the "Thailand Pass" system, under which foreign tourists had to register and show proof of vaccination and health insurance before they could fly to the kingdom.
Visitors will have to carry vaccine certificates or take Covid tests on arrival.
The move is seen as an attempt to bolster the sputtering economy, which has seen growth hammered by the pandemic and living costs rising.
There were more than 1.6 million foreign tourist arrivals during the first six months of 2022, with foreign tourist receipts logged at 99.7 billion baht, according to government data.
This compares with around 40 million foreign tourists visiting Thailand in 2019, the last year before the pandemic.
Daily Covid-19 cases have hovered below 3,500 in recent weeks, with the number of deaths registering below 50 a day for a month.
More than three-quarters of the population has been jabbed with two vaccine doses, with more than 40 percent also getting a booster dose. (AFP)