Health Alert – U.S. Embassy Bangkok, Thailand (April 29, 2020)
Event: Domestic Flights to Resume Under Strict Guidelines; State of Emergency; Automatic Visa Extensions; Incoming International Flight Ban
Domestic Flights to Resume Under Strict Guidelines
The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) has announced new guidelines for the operation of domestic flights within Thailand that affect passengers. The key measures include: 1) passengers must wear face masks and gloves at all times; 2) passengers must adhere to airlines’ social distancing requirements from check-in and boarding through landing and there must be empty seats between passengers; 3) flight crews will wear masks and gloves at all time; and 4) flights crew will not serve food or beverages on the plane and passengers are prohibited from bringing outside food on the plane.
National State of Emergency/Nation-wide Curfew Extended to May 31
The Royal Thai Government has extended to May 31 the national state of emergency and related measures, which includes maintaining border closures and the present 10:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m. curfew.
On March 25, the Royal Thai Government declared a national state of emergency, effective March 26, 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. 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.
A nation-wide curfew remains 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.
Automatic Visa Extensions
On April 24, automatic, additional visa extensions for all types of non-immigrant (i.e. temporary stay) visas went into effect. The measure was initially approved by the Royal Thai Government on April 21. Non-immigrant visas of all types are extended automatically until July 31. If you have a valid visa (i.e. your visa would have expired after March 26, the date of the first “amnesty”) you do not need to visit an immigration office in order to benefit from the automatic visa extension.
If your visa expired on March 26 (the date of the initial “amnesty”) or earlier and you do not have a valid visa, you will need to visit the nearest local immigration office to request a visa – which is then eligible for any future automatic extensions. You may be subject to an overstay fine.
For those foreign nationals who are staying in Thailand for over 90 days and must submit a 90-Day Notification of Residence and the deadline is between May 1 and July 31, the deadline has been extended to July 31, 2020.
The U.S. Embassy will no longer provide extension of stay request letters. U.S. Citizens in Thailand temporarily have between now and July 31 to either return to the United States (or your country of permanent residence) or to obtain the appropriate visa type for your long-term stay in Thailand.
Please refer your specific visa questions directly to the Thai Immigration Bureau. More information can also be found here: https://immigration.go.th/content/extend_alien?click=1
CAAT Extends Ban on Incoming International Flights Until May 31
The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) announced the extension until 31 May 2020 of the ban on incoming international flights.
We strongly urge U.S. citizens temporarily in Thailand to depart now while there are still outbound flights available.
The following airlines are currently offering outbound flights from Bangkok with connections to the United States: Korean Air, Qatar Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, Japan Airlines, Air Asiana and Lufthansa. Japan Airlines announced further reductions in service from Bangkok to Tokyo effective immediately. All Nippon Airways (ANA) offers flights from Bangkok to Tokyo, but connecting flights to the U.S. require you to change airports in Japan, which is not allowed under Japan’s current travel restrictions. 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).
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. 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 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 the cost of a full-fare, round-trip economy ticket).
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.
Airlines/Airport Closures and Alternate Routes
We strongly urge U.S. citizens to depart Thailand now while there are still outbound flights available. The U.S. government does not anticipate arranging repatriation flights from Thailand.
There are available routes from southern Thailand to Bangkok.
Surat Thani Airport announced that Nok Air, AirAsia and Thai Lion Air will resume domestic flights starting May 1. Nok Air and Thai AirAsia will operate daily flights while Thai Lion Air will operate one flight a week. More information is available through the airlines or with the Tourism Authority of Thailand. There are speedboat transfers between Koh Phangan, Koh Tao, and Koh Samui to Surat Thani. Please check at the pier directly to determine which lines are running and when. We understand the Lomprayah company has regular transfers. There is bus service from the Donsak Pier in Surat Thani to the Surat Thani Airport.
For those in Phuket, the airport is closed until April 30, and the land and maritime borders are also closed. The Provincial Government of Phuket has approved movements between Phuket and the Surat Thani Airport. The U.S. Embassy must provide the provincial government your information at least three days before your flight in order to receive clearance by local officials. See below for details. We will provide you a travel letter in order to cross the provincial border. You must carry the letter along with your boarding pass. Travelers should discuss options for getting to Surat Thani with their hotel or they can choose to rent a car.
We are ready to assist you with the provision of a travel letter in order to facilitate your travel to Bangkok. In order to receive a travel letter from the Embassy, you must provide a confirmed itinerary. You must also provide your name, as written in your passport, date of birth, and passport number. Please write these out. Do not send us a scan of your passport page. Please send the requested information to email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org OR U.S. Consulate General Chiang Mai at email@example.com. Government loans are available for the purchase of airline tickets to the United States if needed. The U.S. Embassy and U.S. Consulate General have helped more than a hundred people return to the United States since the COVID-19 crisis began and we are aware of many more who were able to return to the United States on their own.
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.
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.
Getting Medications in Thailand
The U.S. Embassy in Bangkok and Consulate General in Chiang Mai are unable to assist you with obtaining medications in Thailand, or arranging for importation of medications only available in the U.S. Due to the unreliability of flights we recommend you obtain your medication locally if possible. Many medications are available through reputable pharmacies such as Boots or Watsons. Other people may need to change to a reliable alternative medication available in Thailand as recommended by their physician.
If the medication you need is not available locally and is critical to your health and well-being, then we recommend that you return to the United States immediately as we have no way of determining when this crisis will be over or normal flight schedules will resume. There are currently outbound commercial flights available with connections to U.S. cities.
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:
- Consult the CDC website for the most up-to-date information.
- For the most recent information on what you can do to reduce your risk of contracting COVID-19, please see the CDC’s latest recommendations.
- Visit the COVID-19 crisis page on travel.state.gov for the latest information.
- Check with your airlines, cruise lines, or travel operators regarding any updated information about your travel plans and/or restrictions.
- Visit our Embassy webpage on COVID-19 for information on conditions in Thailand.
- Visit the Department of Homeland Security’s website on the latest travel restrictions to the United States.
- Visit the Kingdom of Thailand’s Ministry of Public’s Health English-language COVID-19 page for updates on the situation in Thailand.
- U.S. Embassy Bangkok, Thailand
Telephone: +66 2 205 4049
+66 2 205 4000 (after hours)
American Citizens Services
- U.S. Consulate General Chiang Mai, Thailand (serving U.S. citizens in Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Kamphaengphet, Lampang, Lamphun, Mae Hong Son, Nan, Petchabun, Phayao, Phichit, Phitsanulok, Phrae, Sukhothai, Tak, and Uttaradit provinces)
Telephone: +66 053 107 700
+66 2 205 4000 (after hours)
- State Department – Consular Affairs
888-407-4747 or 202-501-4444
- Thailand Country Information
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