Thousands of Thai citizens are expected to return to the country over the coming days as land borders with Malaysia and Laos reopen for the first time in a month.
Border crossings at 21 provinces have now opened to allow Thai citizens stranded in neighboring countries to return home with 262 people entering via southern checkpoints with Malaysia yesterday.
At border crossings with Malaysia, there are strict measures in place as a nationwide lockdown remains in place across Thailand’s southern neighbor.
The Malaysian Government agreed to reopen the border with Thailand but any Thai nationals wishing to cross must first register their intent with Malaysian authorities.
They can then cross the border in groups of five, going through the checkpoints on at a time. Screening protocols then take place on the Thai side of the border.
All returnees will be transferred to local quarantine facilities for 14 days and monitored closely.
The government has set up 467 quarantine facilities across five southern provinces to accommodate up to 10,000 returning Thai citizens.
Similar protocols are in place at the Thai-Laos border, however, there are much fewer Thai nationals stranded in Laos than in Malaysia.
Concerns of illegal crossings were also addressed with Fourth Army Chief Lt Gen Pornsak Poonsawat saying:
“In case they enter the country illegally, we must accommodate them because all are Thais. However, they must be taken into the formal system with the law enforced against them for illegal entry.”
“They will then be sent to undergo the disease screening system. Border defence forces have been put on full alert along border areas around the clock.”
Thai authorities have initially put a cap of 300 returnees per day to try and ensure effective screening measures are carried out properly.