Health Alert – U.S. Embassy Bangkok, Thailand (April 14, 2020)

Health Alert – U.S. Embassy Bangkok, Thailand (April 14, 2020)
Location:  Thailand
Event:  Updates to Thai Northern Province Travel Restrictions

Thai Domestic Travel Restrictions
Options for forms of domestic travel (including airplanes, buses, public vans, and trains) are also decreasing throughout Thailand.  This week there is an average of two flights per day from Chiang Mai International Airport to Bangkok.  In Chiang Mai, all inter-provincial bus and train services are cancelled until April 30.  Some private car services are still offering transportation between provinces of including from Chiang Mai to Bangkok.

Travelers should be prepared for domestic travel restrictions to be put into effect with little or no advance notice that may make travel to the airport in Thailand difficult. Some provinces have established checkpoints where authorities many conduct health inspections or require travelers to have a valid reason to enter or pass through the province.  Phuket province is currently in “lock down”.  You should be prepared to remain in Phuket until transportation restrictions are lifted.  Limitations on movement between Phuket’s 17 districts (Tambun) are in effect until April 27th.

Chiang Mai province requires all foreign travelers entering the province to quarantine for 14 days.  Lamphun, Nan, Phitsanulok, and Phrae provinces require all Thai and foreign national travelers to quarantine for 14 days.  Mae Hong Son province has barred all foreigners from entering the province.

Authorities may implement additional provincial travel restrictions which may vary from province to province.  Therefore, U.S. citizens planning to cross provincial lines in order to obtain emergency medical care, to visit the Embassy or Consulate for emergency services, or to travel to an airport should check the latest restrictions first.  If you must travel across provincial lines be prepared to show identification and demonstrate your reason for travel if stopped by the authorities, including providing proof of travel arrangements or medical or consular appointment.      

Options for forms of domestic travel (including airplanes, buses, public vans, and trains) are also decreasing throughout Thailand.  In Chiang Mai, all inter-provincial bus and train services are cancelled until April 30.  Some private car services are still offering transportation between provinces including from Chiang Mai to Bangkok.

REMINDER: National State of Emergency
On March 25th, the Royal Thai Government declared a national state of emergency, effective March 26th, in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in Thailand.  Most restaurants, stores, and entertainment venues are closed except for food delivery, supermarkets, restaurants’ delivery service providers and food markets, drug stores, convenience stores, banks, and other stores selling necessary items.  Alcohol sales are banned nation-wide. Several provinces have closed their borders, requested most hotels to close, and have instituted additional restrictions on movement within the province.  Thai law controlling emergency situations gives the Prime Minister’s Office broad authorities, and more emergency measures further restricting movements and activities in Thailand may be announced at any time. Under the state of emergency, provincial governments are also empowered to institute any legal measure they determine necessary to combat the spread of the virus. (Please see ‘Thai Domestic Travel Restrictions’ below).

If you are concerned about your continued stay in Thailand, we advise you to arrange for immediate return to the United States. Travelers should be prepared for travel restrictions to be put into effect with little or no advance notice.  If you do not return to the United States, you should be prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite period.

Transportation Out of Thailand
U.S. citizens should prepare for the strong possibility that in the near future there will no longer be commercial flights departing Thailand with connections to the United States.  At present, only one or two such flights depart Bangkok per day, a number expected to soon decrease even further.We strongly advise temporary visitors in Thailand to make commercial arrangements for immediate return to the United States while there is still an opportunity.

When booking a flight out of Thailand we urge you to do so at the earliest opportunity, ideally within the next several days.  If you have booked a flight after this time period, you should consider rebooking for an earlier date or make plans to stay in Thailand indefinitely.

The following major airports are closed: Phuket International Airport (April 10-30), Koh Samui Airport (April 7-30).

The U.S. government does not anticipate arranging repatriation flights from Thailand at this time.  Such flights are a last resort, arranged in situations where U.S. citizens did not have an opportunity to depart via commercial options.   In addition, U.S. citizens are charged the fair market value for seats (normally at least the cost of a full-fare economy ticket.)

If you are having difficulty booking a flight back to the United States for any reason, including financial, please contact U.S. Embassy Bangkok immediately at acsbkk@state.gov OR U.S. Consulate General Chiang Mai at acschn@state.gov   Government loans are available for the purchase of airline tickets to the U.S. if needed.

The following airlines are currently offering outbound flights from Bangkok with  connections to the United States: Korean AirQatar AirwaysJapan AirlinesAir AsianaKLM, and Lufthansa.  Today, Japan Airlines announced further reductions in service from Bangkok to Tokyo effective immediately.  Korean Air is expected to reduce its daily service to Seoul in the near future.   There are no longer international flights departing from Chiang Mai International Airport or Phuket International Airport.  U.S. citizens should consider booking flights to major points of entry into the United States and then arrange for further domestic travel upon arrival.  U.S. citizens should also take into account the need to travel from their current location in Thailand to Bangkok in order to catch an international flight (please see “Thai Domestic Travel Restrictions” below). 

The few remaining flight routes are subject to cancellation without notice, and many flights are heavily booked.   For verified information about the COVID-19 situation in other countries, please visit: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/COVID-19-Country-Specific-Information.html.

There are currently no government restrictions or requirements for U.S. citizens departing Thailand or entering the United States.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has country-specific airport information available here.

Nation-wide Curfew

nation-wide curfew is currently in effect from 10:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m..  Except for emergency medical care and travel to and from the airport, U.S. citizens should remain in their residences and hotel rooms during those hours.  U.S. citizens who must travel during curfew hours for emergency medical care or to and from the airport may be stopped by the police and should be prepared to show identification and demonstrate their reason for travel.

Any U.S. citizens with an emergency request for assistance please email the American Citizens Services unit acsbkk@state.gov (Bangkok)  OR acschn@state.gov (Chiang Mai).

Royal Thai Government COVID Information
Please visit the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s website for updated information.  Additional information about restrictions across Thailand can be found at the Ministry of Public Health’s Department of Disease Control COVID-19 website.

Key Points on COVID-19: 

  • Widespread ongoing transmission of a respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is occurring globally.
  • The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential international travel.
  • Older adults and people of any age with serious chronic medical conditions are at increased risk for severe disease.
  • There may be limited access to adequate medical care in affected areas of Thailand.
  • In the future, U.S. residents may have difficulty returning to the United States.
  • Travelers should avoid contact with sick people and wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Thai regulations now require the wearing of face masks in public.
  • All international travelers should stay home for 14 days after returning from travel, monitor their health, and practice social distancing.

For more the most up-to-date information visit the CDC page on Novel Coronavirus and the CDC Travelers Health Page for travelers to Thailand.  Information is also available through the World Health Organization.

Actions to Take:

Assistance: