Confusion abounds for travellers from Thailand arriving in UK

Filling the world’s beaches during the Covid pandemic is an enormous challenge.

On London’s latest health rulings, British vacationers to Thailand’s Sandbox visitor-cocoon program do not have to quarantine, at home or in a hotel, on their return to UK. This is because they must have been fully vaccinated in UK before the Thai embassy in London issued the all-important certificate of entry authorization. On returning to UK, they need only pre and post flight Covid tests and a passenger locator form for address confirmation.

But all non-Sandbox travellers to UK, Brits or Thais, are required to self-quarantine for 10 days on arrival in UK if they are unvaccinated or if their jabs were done in Thailand.  This is because the UK health authorities only recognize vaccinations physically performed in the UK, the European Union or the United States. The British Department of Transport says that vaccination programs performed outside the designated countries “are not yet approved.”

Thailand’s current grading in the UK’s traffic lights system is amber or medium risk. But the United States has already moved Thailand to the highest level of concern and strongly urged Americans not to visit the Land of Smiles because of the significant Covid risks. The next revision of the UK’s traffic lights is scheduled for August 25 although changes can be announced suddenly, as happened recently in the case of Mexico.

If Thailand is given the red signal by UK authorities, compulsory quarantine in a state-recognized hotel for 10 days will be required of all arrivals in UK whether vaccinated or not and irrespective of nationality. The cost would be a whopping 2,285 pounds. Another problem could be suddenly invalid insurance policies as vacationers had been visiting countries “against the government’s advice”. UK travel agents say the likelihood of Thailand becoming red increases every time the daily infection totals increase – which is currently the unfortunate trend.

The Tourist Authority of Thailand has reacted to the growing international pressure by stressing that only selected parts of Thailand, particularly Phuket and certain other islands, are open for foreign tourism and that the Sandbox record in keeping overseas visitors safe is unblemished. British nationals have been the leading European champions of the Sandbox program and a sudden withdrawal would leave a serious gap in recruitment.