This photo taken on Feb 6, 2020 shows a waitress cleaning an area at a nearly empty restaurant at Ao Nang beach in Krabi province, Thailand. (NICOLAS ASFOURI / AFP)
HONG KONG/ BANGKOK - China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government Monday welcomed the government of Thailand's decision to set up a special travel arrangement for cross-border control with five economies, including the HKSAR, as a first step in relaxing its inbound passenger control.
If the special relaxation arrangements for cross-border control can be established between the two places, cross-boundary business exchange can be gradually resumed for Hong Kong, which is set to give a tremendous boost to our economic recovery.
Edward Yau, Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development of the HKSAR government
Thailand's Deputy Secretary General to the Prime Minister for Political Affairs Kobsak Pootrakool announced the special arrangement at a webinar titled "Resilience Strategy: Thailand-Hong Kong Partnership", which was jointly organized by the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau of the HKSAR government and the Thailand Board of Investment on Monday.
"If the special relaxation arrangements for cross-border control can be established between the two places, cross-boundary business exchange can be gradually resumed for Hong Kong, which is set to give a tremendous boost to our economic recovery," Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development of the HKSAR government Edward Yau said in a press release.
Yau said that, on establishing the relevant mechanism with Thailand, it is most important to contain the potential risk brought about by the increase of passenger flow and continuously monitor the epidemic and prevention work of the two places while relaxing the control on inbound passenger traffic progressively.
"The discussion between the two sides will be based on science and aim to formulate simple and practical operation procedures. The relevant discussion will touch on details of the relaxation measures for cross-border control, specific operation arrangements to reduce the risks of spreading the virus across the borders, the provision of transport services and more," Yau added.
The Thai government's Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) on Monday said short-stay business travelers and guests of the Thailand government from Chinese mainland, China's Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea and Singapore will be allowed to enter from July 1.
"This special arrangement will initially allow entry to 200 inbound travelers per day," CCSA spokesman Dr. Taweesin Visanuyothin said on Monday.
He said the number of inbound travelers will increase as more alternative state quarantine (ASQ) rooms are made available, and the special arrangement will allow entry to groups of no more than 10 people for a short period.
Taweesin said that inbound travelers will be tested for COVID-19 prior to travel and on arrival in Thailand.
"These travelers will be subject to being monitored constantly by health and security officials," said Taweesin. "They must submit their Thailand itinerary in advance and will only be allowed to travel by private car."
In a press release, the CCSA also indicated that foreign spouses and children of work permit holders, foreigners with residency rights in Thailand, foreigners married to Thais, foreigners seeking medical treatment in Thailand (except for COVID-19) and international students and their guardians, will all be allowed entry into Thailand starting July 1.
Taweesin said that these foreign visitors cannot just purchase an air ticket and expect immediate entry into Thailand.
For foreigners work permit (WP3) and BOI certificate holders, they should contact their local Royal Thai Embassy or consulate for a permit to travel to Thailand, according to the spokesman.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) will arrange seats aboard repatriation flights for eligible passengers.
HONG KONG NEWS