Foreign nationals who hold permanent residency or work permit and are stranded abroad due to the coronavirus pandemic will soon be able to return to Thailand, said a government official on Wednesday (May 27).
The move to allow the said group of people with permanent residency or work permit back to Thailand soon is the government’s response to a recent plea from them wanting to return to their partners.
The Facebook groups – Farangs Stranded Abroad Due to Lockdown in Thailand and Thai Expats Stranded Overseas Due to Covid-19 Travel Restrictions – have quickly gained thousands of members who are campaigning to return to the country for a variety of reasons, said Sawadee Siam news in their report.
According to The Nation, authorities are currently working on repatriating Thai nationals stranded abroad, and after that, it will work on allowing back foreigners who have a permanent residence permit or a work permit to re-enter the country, said Natapanu Nopakun, deputy director-general of Foreign Ministry’s Information Department and deputy spokesperson.
He said Thailand has to find a balance between limited resources and effectively repatriating stranded Thais, which continues to be the priority for now. He said:
“Our repatriation mission is nearing completion, and once that is done, then we can accommodate the flow of foreigners stranded outside Thailand. We appreciate the sacrifices and regret the inconvenience caused, but hope everyone understands that even though it appears as if Thailand has won the battle against the virus, this is only the beginning and we have not yet overcome the war.”
“The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration is currently discussing the option of letting foreigners enter the country in due course. We also plan to give priority to permanent residents and those with work permits to return as soon as the situation has eased,” Natapanu added.
However, the ban on incoming flights to Thailand will continue until at least the end of June, meaning many English language teachers will not be able to return to Thailand in time for the planned reopening of schools on July 1st.
The flight ban is also affecting families who have been separated due to one parent being trapped abroad and unable to reenter Thailand to be with their spouses and children.
Mr. Nophun hopes that Thailand is not far away from a return to some kind of normality, saying:
“We hope if this situation continues, then restrictions can be eased further to finally bring normalcy to the country.”
For the foreigners who are being kept from their families, work, and lives in Thailand, the reopening of Thailand’s borders cannot come quickly enough.
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