Traveling to Thailand - Mission Impossible

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Jun
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Re: Traveling to Thailand - Mission Impossible

Post by Jun »

There are 2 fundamental and distinct issues in your post:

1 Business survival. Any business with bank loans or rent to pay will struggle to survive with near zero income. And I imagine most hotels catering to foreign tourists have near zero income (for example).
That's why they need to start by allowing some tourists back, even if it's initially only those who will accept 2 weeks quarantine. Then once they have processed about several thousand of of them, use the quarantine & test data to figure out where the rules can be relaxed whilst minimizing risk.

2 What Pattaya does long term. I think the first priority should be to get things up and running, catering to it's traditional customer base. Also, make sure they are using the current quiet period to do any work that would cause disruption when the city is busy.

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Re: Traveling to Thailand - Mission Impossible

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Jun wrote:
Wed Oct 21, 2020 1:07 am
make sure they are using the current quiet period to do any work that would cause disruption when the city is busy.
Pattaya has been trying to do that. The problem has been the rains. Most of the work is road work. Near constant flooding, along with the days it takes to drain and dry out enough so that work can continue, has caused delays. This is one time I don't find fault with the city or the work crews. Nature is beyond their control.

I'm not worried about delays in the work. I think by the time they're finished there still won't be tourists around here. What I worry about is whether the work will truly solve problems and how long it will be before they're busy doing the usual - digging it all up again . . .

Regarding the tourist industry financial problems, it ought to be obvious by now that the powers-that-be are prioritizing Covid-19 control over tourist industry woes and they're not about to change. The consequences of not doing anything substantial to control it are obvious. The USA has now had over 220,000 deaths due to the virus. Thailand has had 59. I agree with the Thai government stance on this. The tourist industry can recover. Dead people cannot.

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Re: Traveling to Thailand - Mission Impossible

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Where's my "I Don't Get It" list . . . ?
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Foreign visitors hit with more obstacles

22 October, 2020

Russian and European tourists started booking rooms at Alternative State Local Quarantine (ASLQ) hotels in Pattaya of Chonburi province, but were then blocked from organising flights to the kingdom after Thai Consulate-Generals said they were only allowed to quarantine in Bangkok and its surrounding areas.

Thanet Supornsahasrungsi, president of the Chonburi Tourism Council, told media on Wednesday that the ASLQ hotels in Chonburi had passed health standards, adding that Russian and European guests had already booked their rooms.

According to the consulates, the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) has blocked ASLQs altogether, so the large number of foreign tourists who booked the hotels in Pattaya to quarantine for 14 days and stay, failed, he said.

Mr Thanet said that the Special Tourism Visa (STV), initiated by the government to allow foreign visitors to enter the country as a way to offset the economic losses caused by the global Covid-19 pandemic, has hit a stumbling block once more. There are not enough rooms in hotels in the Alternative State Quarantine (ASQ) category in Bangkok and its surroundings. This was a reason why ASLQs were launched in the provinces, yet the CCSA still blocked quarantines in provinces outside Bangkok.

In Pattaya, 13 hotels have currently applied to to the quarantine programme, while only three have passed the state's criteria to control the disease; nonetheless, guests who booked in those three hotels will not be allowed to enter, he said.

https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/20 ... -obstacles

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Re: Traveling to Thailand - Mission Impossible

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Uh-oh . . .

A French woman has tested positive for Covid-19 after being released from quarantine. No word yet as to where, when, and how she contracted it and no word yet as to what, if anything, this will do to Thailand letting tourists in.

This definitely is not good news.
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French woman tests positive for Covid-19 on Koh Samui shortly after being released from 14 day quarantine

By Adam Judd

23 October, 2020

Koh Samui, Surat Thani-

A French woman has tested positive for COVID – 19 on Samui Island after she was released from an alternative state quarantine in Samut Prakan.

The Thailand Department of Disease Control and Dr. Weerasak Lorthongkam, director of Koh Samui Hospital, reports that the French woman, 57, from Limoges arrived in Thailand on September 30th with her seventeen-year-old son and her husband.

Their COVID- 19 result showed not detected twice. They were released from the state quarantine on October 15. She made a brief visit to the French Embassy and then the family went to Samui Island with a Bangkok Airways flight on the same day with ten other passengers and two crew members. She also reportedly visited a 7-11 and a Big C, however wore a mask on both visits and reportedly had limited contact.

The French woman went to a hospital on October 20th after she started to have a fever on October 17 at home after several days of self treatment in which she did not leave the home. Her COVID – 19 result confirmed positive twice eventually over the past several days. However, her child and husband have tested negative with no signs of illness and remain quarantined and separated from the general public at the Koh Samui hospital.

Officials are now following up on her contacts and high risk contacts which so far number about fifteen people as well as a roughly 42 low risk contacts. These contacts are being quarantined and tested by the Department of Disease Control. Authorities are asking local residents on Samui not to panic as they investigate the case. We will have further updates on this as they come in.

https://thepattayanews.com/2020/10/23/f ... uarantine/

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Re: Traveling to Thailand - Mission Impossible

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TAT announces compulsory medical insurance for foreign visitors

Thailand’s Office of Insurance Commission now allows overseas travellers to purchase Thai-based COVID-19 insurance online.

October 23, 2020

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is pleased to share the latest announcement from the Office of Insurance Commission (OIC) that foreign visitors will be able to purchase compulsory COVID-19 insurance policy online prior to visiting the Kingdom.

TAT Governor, Mr. Yuthasak Supasorn, said, “A medical insurance policy with at least USD $100,000 coverage or about 3.16 million Baht for possible COVID-19 treatment is among the official documents required from foreign visitors planning to visit Thailand during this challenging public health crisis.

“TAT hopes the COVID-19 insurance protection programme, under the regulation of the OIC, offers additional peace-of-mind for foreign visitors and hopefully makes it easier for inbound travellers before departing from their country of origin,” Mr. Yuthasak added.

The Thai General Association (TGIA) and the Thai Life Assurance Association (TLAA) plus 16 leading and non-life insurance companies in Thailand are partnering together with the oversight according to regulations from the OIC to offer the COVID-19 insurance protection programme to foreign visitors.

Foreign travellers will enjoy the following advantages of purchasing an OIC-endorsed medical insurance policy, which is available online at https://covid19.tgia.org/

* The insurance policy has been approved by the Thai government and can be used in the Thai visa application process. Coverage begins immediately upon arrival in Thailand.
* No need for advance payment or out-of-pocket expenses when admitted at private hospitals nationwide. Insurance coverage does not exceed USD $100,000 or about 3.16 million Baht.
* In the case of death from COVID-19 infection, the insurance company will provide a life insurance benefit of USD $100,000 or about 3.16 million Baht to the beneficiary.
* The insurance premium cost is reasonable, the process is overseen by the OIC, and purchase can be done efficiently online.
* Thailand’s public health infrastructure and healthcare facilities, as well as healthcare professionals are recognised as some of the best in Asia for treating infectious diseases.

The OIC-endorsed COVID-19 insurance packages vary from 30 days to one year. The premium ranges from 1,600-4,800 Baht for 30 days of coverage; from 2,880-8,640 Baht for 60 days; from 3,840 – 12,160 Baht for 90 days; from 7,680 – 23,040 Baht for 120 days, and from 14,400 – 43,200 Baht for one year.

TAT highly recommends foreigners planning to visit Thailand to enquire at the Royal Thai Embassy/Consulate-General in their home country before making any bookings.

https://www.tatnews.org/2020/10/tat-ann ... n-visitors

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Re: Traveling to Thailand - Mission Impossible

Post by Jun »

TaT wrote:
Fri Oct 23, 2020 8:11 pm
Foreign travellers will enjoy the following advantages of purchasing an OIC-endorsed medical insurance policy, which is available online at https://covid19.tgia.org/
I tried this link, purely for interest.
Then I selected STV in the menu, a pop up appeared, referring me to a different policy & a link that is needed for people arriving with an STV.

Then, on the original site, they quoted 6400 baht for 90 days, without having asked my age, or anything else that would typically affect the risk. Max medical cover 3.2 million baht.

Pre-covid, I could buy annual multi-trip cover, with the maximum duration of a trip at 90 days for about £36, so approximately 1500 baht.

Now there are estimates that something like 0.7% of the UK population have covid. In the unlikely event that Thailand started issuing visas to UK tourists next week, I'd estimate the probability of any individual having covid when they get on the plane would be comfortably below 0.2%, since we have to do a covid test less than 72 hours before departure (I think).
Funnily enough, if we divide 6400 baht by 0.2%, we get 3.2 million baht, which is the maximum medical coverage.

However, of the 0.2% who hypothetically get covid, perhaps only a tenth would require hospital treatment. Within that tenth, the average payout will be a lot less than 3.2 million baht.

I also presume the probability of infection would be a lot lower for visitors from the countries Thailand is accepting tourists from.

Writing this insurance looks quite profitable.

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Re: Traveling to Thailand - Mission Impossible

Post by @DM »

I’ve made it back to Thailand and from the USA. I’m now in quarantine/staycation at the Anantara Riverside in Bangkok.

For holders of the “Elite Visa,” the first step to return is an application for approval by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, CCSA, TAT and some other government agencies. The original explanation for why the applications needs this multi-level review was that no particular department wanted to take sole responsibility if one of us caused a problem (presumably COVID), so everyone short of the Forestry Department would sign off. This is ostensibly the same procedure as was originally proposed for the STV.

After an excruciating seven week wait, I got the initial MFA approval, which then enabled me to apply to the local embassy for a Certificate of Entry. The embassy (or consulate) checks the paperwork - primarily flight and Alternative State Quarantine (“ASQ) booking and insurance coverage. The embassy in the US required general health insurance at a minimum of $100K and specifically including COVID-19. I have Pacific Cross and they issued the proper certificate, which the embassy accepted no problem. The COE application process is entirely online.

I saw that the TAT has recently said that the insurance requirement for COE is COVID-19 coverage only. I don’t know if the embassy in Washington agrees. One takeaway from the whole process for me is that the TAT is not 100% “accurate.”

It took exactly a week for the embassy to issue the COE, which included Columbus Day and the Thai holiday in that week. They came through and kudos to them.

O-A/X visas (and now regular “O”) skip the initial MFA approval step and apply directly for the COE.

I was on a Cathay Pacific repatriation flight from JFK. There are now “semi-commercial” specific flights not specifically on the embassy’s list. As an official repatriation flight, the rules were clear for me: COVID-19 test issued (not taken) within 72 hours of departure and doctor’s “Fit-To-Fly” certificate issued in the same window.

Where I live there were several places to get COVID tests, but none could guarantee when results would be issued. I ended up taking three tests just to be sure one would be issued within the 72 hour window. This is certainly wasteful but also very common from what others have been saying. Taking more than one ended up being helpful because my first place — which said results would be issued in 2-3 days — actually issued the results in less than 24 hours, about 8 hours too early for my 72 hour “window.”

I got the fit-to-fly certificate through an online visit with QuickMD.com for $75. Easy as can be.

Check-in for the flight was basically fine. Only moment of stress was the guy checking me in saying he had to call Thailand to confirm that the 72 hours was measured from the COVID-19 test results, rather than when the sample was taken. The woman at the next counter had obviously checked in a repatriation flight before and she clued him in. Phew.

The flight was uneventful. Cabin crew didn’t have to wear hazmat suits or anything like that. There were plenty of empty seats for social distancing.

Hong Kong airport was a wasteland, but they seem to be taking advantage of the time to do a lot of renovation work. Our flight came in early (5:00 am), and they kindly opened up the Cathay lounge early.

Arrival in Bangkok was very fast and very efficient. Obligatory temperature checks of course, and then final reviews of all the paperwork. As part of the check-in process you’er given a tag with your ASQ hotel number and there was a team directing people to their ASQ transfer. From landing to the transfer van was faster than usual arrival at BKK, even with all the paperwork checks.

I picked the Anantara Riverside as my ASQ. It’s definitely at the high end, but I was treating the quarantine as a replacement for a trip to Laos for Ok Phansa I had previously booked but had to cancel. Anantara Riverside also has balcony rooms.

There are several Facebook groups that have a ton of information about ASQ hotels and which have family discounts, which have balconies, and the prices. There are some on the 3X,000 baht price range all the way up to pool villas in Phuket which I think costs more than 200,000. Prices include the costs for the associated hospitals — round-the-clock nurses, temperature & general health checks two times a day, and two COVID-19 tests. And of course three meals a day.

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Re: Traveling to Thailand - Mission Impossible

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@DM wrote:
Tue Oct 27, 2020 8:28 am
I’ve made it back to Thailand and from the USA.
Congratulations, welcome home, and thank you very much for your excellent detailed post. I think everyone reading your post very much appreciates your success and the details of what going through this is really like.

Once you complete the quarantine, please also let us know the procedures involved in getting released.

And if you don't mind letting us know, I, for one, am curious about how much the whole thing, from start to finish, ended up costing.

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Re: Traveling to Thailand - Mission Impossible

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Thailand announces “Smart Band” mandatory tracking device for foreign tourists who visit the country during Covid-19 pandemic

By Nop Meechukhun

30 October 2020

Image


Thailand’s Ministry of Digital Economy and Society, in collaboration with Thai startup companies, is developing a “Smart Band” and its application to be used for tracking foreign tourists who would visit Thailand during the Covid-19 global pandemic.

The cabinet committee, under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-O’Cha, has approved of the so-called “Smart Band” digital wristband under the responsibility of the Digital Ministry, following the weekly cabinet meeting on Wednesday, October 28.

The smart device will be distributed for individual foreign visitors and will track their locations and measure the body’s temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate. If the tourist has a body’s temperature above 37.5 degrees celsius, it will immediately alert nearby medical officers for primary health assistance.

The wristband can also help the wearers with various problems, including asking for special assistance at their Alternative State Quarantine (ASQ) or Alternative Local State Quarantine (ALSQ) and asking for directions when they get lost, according to the Ministry.

The “Smart Band” will be developed and initially applied to a limited group of incoming tourists traveling under Special Tourists Visa (STV) on November 1 onwards. It is unclear how long one would need to wear the smart band while a tourist. It was also not announced what the exact cost would be for tourists, if any, for the band.

https://thepattayanews.com/2020/10/30/t ... -pandemic/
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I also like this story. No problem, just make up your own rules . . .

I have always wondered about the logic, or lack thereof, of making people who are eligible for certain visas still have to leave Thailand and then come back. Come back? How? Jump though all the reentry hoops when you were already in Thailand in the first place? Even before Covid-19 that never made sense to me. If a person is eligible for certain visas, why can't immigration issue the visa instead of making a person leave the country, go to a Thai embassy, and have the embassy issue the visa? Who came up with that?

Then, under current circumstances the person returning to Thailand, if he somehow manages to get permission to enter, will have to go through the quarantine.

If there is a logical purpose behind that, someone will have to explain it to me. If there is a logical, sensible explanation, maybe I can remove this from my "I Don't Get It" list. Why do I think my list will not be dropping an item . . . ?
______________________________________________________

Phuket Immigration agrees to change visa types, issue extensions

By The Phuket News

PHUKET: Phuket Immigration is urging all foreigners who have been refused an extension to stay or have their visa status changed to a Non-immigrant B (‘Non-imm B’), which will allow them to work in the country, to apply for their extensions by end of government office hours on Monday (Nov 2). No fines will be charged for filing the late applications.

The move is to prevent foreigners from having to leave the country in order to obtain the correct visa to work in Thailand.

The appeal follows The Phuket News being informed that many teachers in Phuket have had their applications refused to change visa types from a tourist visa to “Non-imm B” so they could be hired to work as a teacher.

The Phuket News had also been informed that Phuket Immigration had refused to accept applications to extend permits to stay for teachers who had already entered the country on a Non-imm B visa.

The reason given by Phuket Immigration officers to the foreigners for refusing to accept their applications was that the foreigners had a ‘visa amnesty extension’ stamp put in their passports by immigration allowing them to stay in the country under the visa amnesty, which will expire tomorrow (Oct 31).

Phuket Immigration officers told the foreigners that the ‘visa amnesty stamp’ had made their previous visa “null and void” – and that in order to get a new Non-imm B visa, the foreigner must leave the country to obtain the visa from an embassy and then come back.

This was despite The Phuket News having obtained a copy of an internal order by Royal Thai Police Pol Deputy Commissioner Gen Suwat Chaengyodsuk to the Ministry of Education on Sept 16 explaining that immigration officers around the country would convert tourist visas to Non-imm B visas so that foreigners may start work as teachers, and that Non-imm B visas – and any other kinds of visas – would be extended so that foreigners would not have to leave the country.

Of note, the National Police Policy Board, chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, agreed unanimously on Aug 28 to promote Pol Gen Suwat to become the new national police chief, replacing Pol Gen Chakthip Chaijinda. Gen Suwat’s promotion was to be effective Oct 1, pending royal endorsement.

“I have never seen this document,” Phuket Immigration Deputy Chief Lt Col Udom Thongchin told The Phuket News this morning (Oct 30).

Asked why a Phuket Immigration officer would refuse to accept an application to change visa status or refuse to accept an application to extend a permit to stay simply because of the ‘visa amnesty stamp’, Lt Col Udom was silent.

Regardless, Lt Col Udom urged any foreigners who had been told they must leave the country in order to obtain a new visa so that they could continue their stay in Thailand – and most importantly to work in Thailand – to file their applications as soon as possible.

“We will abide by the conditions set out in the document [the notice issued by Gen Suwat],” Lt Col Udom said.

“All foreigners have been allowed to stay in the country on visa amnesty, and this includes those on Non Immigration B visas. If that is the visa they entered the country on, that is the same visa they will be allowed to extend their stay on,” he said.

“But to have their applications accepted and approved, the foreigners must present all the documents required,” Lt Col Udom cautioned.

“If they file their applications on Monday, there will be no penalty fines issued,” he said

“Please do this on Monday. If they file their applications on Tuesday or later, they will be fined for overstay from Sunday [Nov 1],” Lt Col Udom warned.

The Phuket Immigration Office in Phuket Town will close at 4:30pm today (Oct 30).

The office will not be open tomorrow, the last day of the visa amnesty (Oct 31).

https://www.thephuketnews.com/phuket-im ... -77811.php

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Re: Traveling to Thailand - Mission Impossible

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Here is a perfect example of what I'm talking about in the Phuket News article above.

The point here is there is no easy way to circumvent Thailand's immigration laws. The problem is compounded when you can't even rely on immigration to follow the rules. Stories are all too common about people getting conned by people who are good at convincing them "Don't worry, I'll get you your visa - but first hand over plenty of cash." That is not going to work. Do not - repeat do not - let yourself be duped into handing over your money to unscrupulous con artists taking advantage of your bad situation. They're only going to make it much worse than it already is.

The people in the article below who were victimized think they are going to get any help from the local police? What do you think the chances of any success with that might be? You get three guesses . . .
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Large group of foreigners on Koh Phangan claims to have been ripped off for visas by language school

By Adam Judd

31 October, 2020

Koh Phangan, Thailand-

A large group of foreigners from different countries filed police reports with the Koh Phangan Police station and spoke with the director-general of the Surat Thani Immigration Division, Lt. Col. Jirachat Rom Saiyud, after claiming to have been ripped off of 20,000 baht per person by a language school on the island.

The school, who The Pattaya News has decided not to name as the investigation is ongoing, is a vocational school on Koh Phangan.

The group of foreigners, which included those from Germany, France, USA, Russia, England and Germany stated that they were told by the school they would be able to change their existing non-b visas to an education visa. It was not stated by police officials what their prior Non-B visas were for, however The Pattaya News notes that many people lost their jobs and employment, especially foreigners, when the Covid-19 pandemic hit. With borders closed, options became very limited for many foreigners.

They claimed an official at the school told them to pay 20,000 baht as a down payment and that they would get their visas changed by September 26th. That date came and went and the victims claimed the school became “unresponsive”. The group of foreigners went directly to Surat Thani Immigration, according to them, when they were told that it was “impossible” to change a Non-B to an education visa without leaving the country.

The victims claimed that when they returned to the school and demanded to speak to the management/owners, they were told that the down payment was not refundable and not a guarantee of the visa being approved after weeks of back and forth.

At this point, the group of foreigners filed police reports this week. Lt. Col. Phuwadon Wiriyawarangkul, Inspector from the Koh Samui Tourist Police, stated that they will be meeting with the language school owners and looking at the overall legality of the case.

https://thepattayanews.com/2020/10/31/l ... ge-school/

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