Thailand News Update | Compulsory insurance Test & Go

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As the dust settles on yesterday’s announcement of the reopening of the Test and Go scheme, details are slowly emerging of a Test & Go, version 2, which will now require additional paperwork and expense, including a PCR test extra on day 5. This means that you must book a SHA+ hotel for day 1 and day 5 of your stay, with accommodation and the cost of the PCR test prepaid. The CCSA also announced that mandatory insurance policies will have to cover ALL contingencies if you arrive to test positive, including your additional accommodation costs. Anyway, for travelers wishing or needing to come to Thailand under the revised Test & Go program, you will soon be able to apply for arrival dates from February 1st. As with all CCSA decisions, they must be blessed with publication in the Royal Gazette before becoming law.

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Another featured announcement yesterday was the restart of Sandbox programs in parts of Chon Buri as well as Koh Chang in Trat province. Specifically, the new sandboxes will be available in these parts of Chon Buri province… Bang Lamung, Pattaya, Si Racha, Si Chang and Sattahip… but only Jomtien and Bang Saray sub-districts in Sattahip. Also the popular island of Koh Chang. The CCSA said they are also expanding the southern sandboxes in what they call the sandbox extension where you can spend time in up to three locations at during your first seven days, through Phuket, Krabi and Phang Nga, as well as Koh Samui and the two neighboring islands in the Gulf of Thailand, Koh Pha Ngan and Koh Tao. ththaiger.com, including changes to province color coding and the extension of drinking hours to 11 p.m. in some locations.

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After a wave of flight cancellations and reshuffling of airline schedules and amenities in the United States over concerns that American 5G services could interfere with some navigational aids on planes, the Aviation Authority Civil of Thailand spoke out to reaffirm that Thai 5G signals in Thailand have no conflicts or adverse effects on the aircraft or flight equipment. Thai civil aviation authorities explained that in Thailand, 5G bandwidth is on a different wavelength than the United States and cannot interfere with anything used in aviation technology. Thailand’s aviation authority also said it has been closely monitoring the 5G situation since last year and following disruptions to US flight schedules over it. Unlike virtually every other country in the world, the United States has not reserved any part of the frequency spectrum. exclusively for aircraft equipment, and sold an uncomfortably close section of the spectrum to mobile carriers AT&T and Verizon for use in their 5G technology. The 5G frequency that mobile carriers were using and about to activate near airports across the country was very close to the radio altimeter frequencies of popular Boeing 777 and 747-8 aircraft. Aviation experts were quick to clarify that this was a problem unique to the United States and that other countries were not at the same risk.

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As storm clouds swirl around the ruling Palang Pracharat coalition, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said yesterday he had no intention of wasting away on a cabinet reshuffle or early elections. His comments follow a dramatic week with the expulsion of 20 renegade MPs who were part of MP Thamanat Prompow’s soft coup in December as he tried to get Palang Pracharat MPs to vote with the opposition during of a vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister. Prime Minister Prayut said the expulsion of the MPs was an internal matter for the party, adding that he believed “the party was trying to restore a sense of normalcy as much as possible”. Another group of Tory MPs also formed a new party and specifically said they would not support the current Prime Minister in a new election. To complicate the issue, long-serving Deputy Prime Minister and loyal stalwart, Prawit Wongsuwan is also the mentor of renegade MP Thammanat Prompow. With all the recent changes, the ruling coalition now has a slim majority in the lower house.

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On March 24, the Thai 20 baht banknote gets another drastic update. The royal portrait will still be visible, but the flimsy green paper on which the bills have been printed for decades is replaced by a new modern polymer with a glossy, laminated feel. Starting March 24, the new, more durable 20 baht polymer banknotes will enter circulation and become legal tender, available at all financial institutions and commercial banks across the country. Anyone who wishes can take their old paper banknotes to these banks and exchange them for new polymer banknotes.
Polymer banknotes were first invented by the Reserve Bank of Australia and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization in 1988. The new polymer banknotes do not absorb dirt or moisture, causing them to makes them cleaner and, as they are much more robust and durable, they don’t need to be taken out of circulation and replaced almost as often as paper bills, making them more environmentally friendly. They also survive the occasional unplanned spin around your washing machine.

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Residents of a Chon Buri housing estate are complaining to local authorities that the burning of crops in nearby plantations is not only causing air pollution, but ash falling on their cars, homes and clothes. They say the sugar plantations in particular were creating ash in the air through illegal burning, resulting in poor air quality for people living in the 100 homes on the estate. But, apparently, the problem is not new. Residents say nearby plantations burn their crops every year during this time, and they have complained repeatedly. Crop burning is a sensitive issue in Thailand. Officials often side with farmers because farmers have little or no other method of disposing of crops. For years, the Thai government has been committed to tackling air pollution problems, both in Thailand and in Southeast Asia. Covid-19, however, has changed government priorities and derailed its plans.

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Pattaya city officials are making efforts in a number of developments in Nakula Old Town Market in the city to boost domestic and international tourism as well as cultural learning centers to develop the old town of fishermen into a coastal destination with leading restaurants, nightlife and seafood market. This is one of the main initiatives of the first phase of the “NEO Pattaya” campaign, which is part of larger projects in the Eastern Economic Corridor. The Mayor says the project aims to develop local infrastructure to support Pattaya as a tourism center for eastern Thailand, specifically focused for this project on domestic tourism.

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Foreigners with valid visas can now enter Vietnam without having to obtain approval from immigration offices or local authorities, starting next Tuesday as the government eased entry restrictions. This means that people holding temporary residence cards, permanent residence cards, valid visas and valid visa exemption certificates will be able to enter Vietnam without any permission from the relevant offices. Vietnam’s deputy prime minister also agreed to the new guidelines, adding that local authorities should continue to facilitate entry into the country for foreigners without a visa, including obtaining approval and providing instructions on way to do it. Those wishing to visit Vietnam for sightseeing must observe all restrictions that apply to international visitors. There is more information about required documentation and visas in the article on thethaiger.com

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