Thailand lifts mask rules for tourists

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Thailand lifts mask rules for tourists

Thailand has dropped rules requiring people to wear masks from Friday, as Covid 19 cases fall and the tourism-dependent kingdom seeks to lure back foreign visitors.

Face masks had been mandatory in public since mid- 2021, when the country saw a wave of cases caused by the spread of the Delta variant.

The kingdom is keen to kickstart its stuttering economy and is relaxing Covid 19 restrictions, including removing most entry requirements from next month.

The Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O- Cha said wearing a surgical mask or cloth mask is a voluntary practice.

The statement said that the health ministry recommends people wear face masks in crowded or poorly ventilated areas, but there was no explicit mention of public transport.

The capital Bangkok's privately owned metro service later announced that it would still require travellers to wear masks on its trains.

The Thai government discarded the rules requiring outdoor mask wearing in Singapore and Cambodia.

It came ahead of the end of the Thailand Pass system, which required visitors to show proof of vaccination before entering the kingdom.

From July 1, tourists will only have to carry their vaccine certificates or take a Covid 19 test on arrival.

Thailand's economy has faltered over the last two years, with growth hammered by rising living costs and Covid-19.

The kingdom has suffered a steep drop in tourism, welcoming 1.6 million foreign tourists during the first six months of 2022, according to government data.

In the first six months of 2019, that figure was just over 20 million, according to the data.

Covid 19 cases and related deaths have come down from a peak, with the kingdom registering around 2,500 daily infections and fewer than 50 deaths a day for more than a month.

Nearly 40% of the population has a booster shot, with at least three-quarters of the population being double-vaccinated.