In early 2020, Thailand was one of the first countries in the world besides China to be affected by Covid-19. By mid-December, the total number of registered cases had surpassed 4200, with 60 deaths. Clearly, for a country heavily dependent on travel revenues, this year has been traumatic. However, while Europe is foreseeing the second wave of stringent lockdowns, Thailand is unlikely to join in. Here is why.
The Results So Far
The country has been handling the pandemic quite successfully. Its infection rate is incomparable to that in India or the USA, for example. According to the head of the World Health Organization, the reason could be that Thailand learned valuable lessons during the SARS outbreak in 2003.
Millions of health volunteers have been acting as the eyes and ears of the healthcare system in their village communities. Tedros Adhanom has praised the country’s commitment to investment in healthcare infrastructure. Over the past four decades, Thailand has managed to build a strong volunteer network.
The figures are particularly impressive because one of the biggest and most crowded cities in the world is Bangkok, and the total population of Thailand is 70 million. Data provided by Johns Hopkins University points to startling progress. In comparison, the UK, with its 68 million residents, has recorded over 1.3 million cases and over 51,000 fatalities.
TAT (The Tourism Authority of Thailand) still urges residents to adhere to strict health and safety routines. These are vital to prevent the spread of infection. The set of measures involves social distancing, wearing a surgical or cloth mask outside, frequent handwashing, and avoidance of close contact with other people. Hugging is still unacceptable, especially with vulnerable groups of people. Finally, Thai residents can greet each other with a Wai from a distance of at least one meter.
On the Upside
This year, humanity has faced a crisis of unprecedented scope. However, rising unemployment and inflation, shrinking oil revenues, and the domino effect of bankruptcies did not come without some positives. While millions of people were confined to their homes in quarantine, many discovered new sources of income.
For example, the online trading industry in Thailand is now booming. Forex trading with FXTM software allows residents to make money remotely, regardless of lockdown restrictions. The presence of international brokers like ForexTime means that the population can improve their financial literacy and work in the largest financial markets remotely.
Distance learning and remote educational opportunities have also been booming. All online businesses and delivery systems have been thriving. Although travel services are bread and butter for so many Thai residents, there is a silver lining.
Who Can Travel to Thailand
In the fourth quarter of the year, the country has resumed welcoming foreign tourists. There is no denying that closing of the borders has dealt a heavy blow to the economy. Now, Thailand accepts selected categories of tourists following stringent protocols. This is better than nothing, but still incomparable to the travel boom of the previous years.
Currently, the list of accepted categories includes Thai nationals or their close relatives, persons on diplomatic or consular missions, representatives of foreign governments, carriers of necessary goods, crew members on a mission, and a few other groups.
Tightening of Some Travel Restrictions
Preventative measures in hotels were tightened in late October. This happened after two tourists quarantined in the same hotel with an infected French woman tested positive. Now, all incoming passengers, including Thai nationals, are divided into groups upon arrival. This depends on the situation in the countries they come from.
A 14-day mandatory quarantine is imposed. Travellers staying in hotels have relative freedom of movement, as they have an opportunity to leave their rooms for exercise or recreation. However, disinfection of equipment and social distancing has been tightened.
The Results of 2020
When humanity will be able to eliminate the virus, or whether it will ever disappear — is a subject of speculation. What is clear is that Thailand has achieved impressive success in terms of spread prevention, but the battle is not over. Hopefully, the situation will continue to improve in the future. Global restrictions on travel mean that internet-based careers will continue to be relevant in 2021.