Options after September 26
There are thought to be no more than 500 foreigners still in Pattaya who have benefitted from the six-month visa amnesty (March 26-September 26) but now realize the sands of time are running out. If they insist on staying here longer and legally, they must either get a letter from their embassy explaining their travel woes for 30 days more, or seek out a new 90-day non-immigrant visa which might be easier to arrange through a visa agent, or so we are told. Could be an expensive enterprise though.
British embassy changes course
After initially refusing to contemplate issuing letters to British expats on visa amnesty who have travel problems after September 26, the latest information is that the consular division has changed its mind, or been told to do so by the London-based foreign office.
This is likely because not every Brit wants to return to UK on the available flights. Some Brits might have a home in another country where the airport remains closed. Thus a Brit trapped in Thailand with a Cambodian retirement permit cannot easily travel to Phnom Penh at present. Neither Cambodian airports nor border posts are functioning normally.
Thai jails a tourist attraction
Prisons in Thailand have always allowed tours from visitors as part of their programme. In the past, Pattaya prison based in Nong Plalai has had open days and boxing competitions whilst selling the handicrafts and furniture made by inmates to boost prison funds and facilities. There are 143 prisons nationwide, not all suitable for open days, but about two thirds have now been told it’s ok to admit groups of tourists on a wanna-see basis. The Justice Ministry says that prisoner participation in escorting tourists round the premises may cancel many widely-believed myths, improve morale and even improve job prospects for inmates after release.
Life-time driving licenses under review
Lucky foreigners who received a life-time car driving licence 15 years ago can rest easy that their prized permission won’t be revoked. It had been rumoured that all licence holders over 70 might need to be re-tested in case their eyesight has deteriorated badly or they have gone mad. But the sheer scale of the operation dissuaded the land transportation department from moving forward. Out of interest, the statistics (such as they are) suggest that most people involved in road traffic accidents in Thailand are under 30 and riding a motorbike.
The case for the Elite visa
Many people say it’s ridiculous to pay 500,000 baht upfront for a five-year visa with a few fringe benefits thrown in. Anyway, they add, it’s not without hassle as you have to report every 90 days (unless out of Thailand) and have it renewed annually and automatically. On the other hand, say supporters of Elite, the visa is multiple-entry whilst fast-track airport immigration and free medical checkups are not to be sniffed at. Moreover, a one-year extension of stay based on retirement now requires you to have 800,000 baht in a Thai bank account for five months and 400,000 baht for the other seven, unless you send here 65,000 baht every month of the year which leaves you open to exchange rate fluctuations. Expect interest in Elite to grow now that possession allows holders to return to Thailand sooner than general tourists.
Future of Walking Street
Attempts are being made to turn Pattaya’s most famous land mark into a Thai (rather than farang) fun area. Admittedly, there are more Thai eating places there now, an abundance of Thai music in those clubs which are not padlocked and more street sellers offering OTOP handicrafts and clothes. It’s a bold move by the authorities, but many locals say the Street will never recover without foreign customers. As that possibility seems as remote as ever, it seems likely that the conversion of Walking Street into a leisure park with restaurants, children’s rides, public swimming pools and even an underwater zoo is a distinct possibility.
Coronavirus checks no longer stringent
Most superstores or major outlets are still insisting on a temperature checks at the door, but use of the Thai Chana app to record your movements seems to be in decline. Some places like you to sign in manually though the phone numbers are often hard or impossible to read. If there was a sudden outbreak of the virus, it might be difficult to contact all those who might need to be tested. Lack of enforcement mechanisms will always lead to back-sliding. It’s human nature.
Store-front mask notices in USA
If you come into the store without a mask we will have to take your temperature. Please note we only have rectal thermometers.
Attention. If you or your loved ones have been refused entry to business premises for not wearing a mask and you would like to explore your legal and constitutional rights, our law firm will be happy to explain just how stupid you are.