Grapevine: Foreigners last – July 16, 2021


Curious booze laws
The Chonburi governor has outlawed the sale of alcohol, presumably in supermarkets and convenience stores, from 8 pm to 4 am as part of the anti-virus campaign. But the only lawful selling times even before his edict were 11 am to 2 pm and 5 pm to 11 pm. So all that has happened is that 5 pm to 11 pm is now 5 pm to 8pm. All a bit confusing.

Elusive vaccines
The favourite choice amongst farang seems to be Moderna. A handful have managed to sign up at private hospitals and have paid a deposit. But the hospitals are not allowed to negotiate directly with suppliers. Thanks to bureaucratic confusion, supplies likely won’t be available until next year. Meanwhile, the Chinese vaccines are arriving here in large numbers.

Red list British
Although the Covid-19 disease control people in Thailand have moved the UK from amber (medium virus risk) to red (the highest threat), planes from London are still arriving and the Sandbox Brits are allowed to land without problem. So what is the point of labeling countries green-amber-red if the authorities take no notice? You figure it.

Sandbox early success
That said, about 10,000 global foreigners have applied to join the Phuket Sandbox scheme, a bigger number than the critics had predicted to be sure. Meanwhile, many countries are warning their citizens not to come to Thailand because of growing infections in the host population. How this will develop over the summer is the jackpot question.

Count the non-tourists
Another issue is how many of those applying to join Sandbox are actually tourists. In order to avoid two weeks’ quarantine in an isolation hotel there will be many business travellers, relatives of Thai nationals and members of international organization also on those planes. Sandbox is in theory all about tourism. In practice, that may not be the whole story.

The healthy pound
Never look too far ahead when it comes to currency speculation. The near universal view late last year was that the pound would fall below 40 baht irrespective of any last-minute Brexit deal. The rate at present is hovering around 44. Whether this reflects international confidence in the UK or echoes the virus wave in Thailand is a matter of opinion.

Brits try again
The issue of frozen old age pensions for British expats in most countries has reared its head again with lobbyists advocating the elderly abroad should use their vote at the next election on that single issue. But trying to organize 520,000 British expats into some sort of effective lobby makes training cats for the circus look like a piece of cake. Don’t count on any new cash.

Ganja not worth it
After initial intense interest, many Pattaya coffee shops and cafes offering soft drinks with the legitimate dose of added cannabis have given up. Many customers have said they couldn’t taste any difference and all they got was a mild headache or no feeling at all. Just not worth the extra cost seems to be the most common reaction.

Cambodian gates closing
The Cambodian government has announced it is closing its border posts with Thailand and Vietnam because of the pandemic. But the same press release states that incoming people must be vigorously tested and hospitalized if necessary. How can you shut the door and then admit folks? What is clear is that Cambodia remains closed to farang visa runners.

60 day Covid visas
A reader asks whether immigration is still granting 60 day visas to farang who say they can’t get home yet. Yes until July 30, although there may not be any more extensions of the final application date. However, some bureaux are questioning foreigners why they can’t return home as flights are available. If you have a genuine reason to stay, have no fear.