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by Orathai Sriring (Reuters) – Thailand on Wednesday further eased coronavirus restrictions and plans to shorten a quarantine period to (assist seafarers and) encourage foreign tourists, an official said. Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy suffered its worst contraction in over two decades in the second quarter as the vital tourism sector was badly hit.
Relaxed rules will make it easier for people on yachts and the foreign crew of ships to enter the country, but with strict adherence to health measures, coronavirus taskforce spokesman, Taweesin Wisanuyothin, told a briefing.
The government is considering shortening the mandatory quarantine period for new arrivals from the current two weeks, he said. Some health officials have suggested that could be reduced to 10 days.
On Tuesday, 39 visitors from Shanghai arrived in Bangkok on special 90-day visas, the first foreign tourists since April.
Thailand could see just 6.7 million arrivals this year, the government says, less than a fifth of a record 39.8 million in 2019.
The government banned commercial flights in April to keep COVID-19 at bay, and new cases have mostly been Thais returning home on repatriation flights. The country has reported just over 3,700 infections.
Despite the moves to entice tourists, the government has given no clear timeframe for when regular commercial flights and tourist arrivals will resume.
However, it plans to extend a state emergency for another month to the end of November, Taweesin said.
(Reporting by Orathai Sriring and Panarat Thepgumpanat; Editing by Martin Petty, Reuters)
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