UPDATE: Malaysian drivers baffled by Thailand Pass as southern border reopens

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YOU WILL NOT PASS. That’s the message some northbound Malaysian travelers received when they attempted to drive their car into Thailand yesterday morning, only to find they had forgotten the most important thing: you must ALWAYS register for the Thailand Pass. . In advance.

Thailand finally reopened its land border with Malaysia on April 1 for travelers on private transport. But it wasn’t easy navigating for those who’ve forgotten that the beleaguered Thailand Pass system is still in place – and you need to register before entering the country. Apparently not many people received the memo. Just over a hundred Malaysians had registered ahead of the 5 a.m. opening this morning at the Sadao crossing point in Songkhla province, the Bangkok Post reported.

Perplexity at the border

A border town opposite the Malaysian state of Kedah, Sadao is home to the main land crossing point with Malaysia, which has been closed for two years due to the pandemic. Local police, along with soldiers, were ready to provide assistance to customs officials today, in case things got out of control. Probably they were ready to arrest anyone trying to smuggle them across the border when they realized they didn’t have a stupid QR code and all that ridiculous paperwork including a Covid-19 vaccination certificate and proof reservation/reservation for an extra plus hotel SHA, whatever the heck that is.

According to local officials, some northern Malaysians were confused to find that they could not enter Thailand with just a passport and proof of vaccinations, as they could enter Singapore at their southern border from the same day. Thai customs officials reportedly turned away potential travelers who had not registered with the Thailand Pass system. In total, only 107 travel-ready Malaysians had completed all the necessary steps to enter the Land of Smiles.

The lucky few

Malaysian travelers who had all their paperwork ready were allowed to enter Thailand under the Test & Go program, where they had to take an RT-PCR test and then wait at their SHA extra plus hotel for around five hours for the results. . According to the authorities, those who test negative will be free to move around the country. But arriving foreigners should remember the law of the land: always wear a mask in public and wash your hands often. Anyone who tests positive for the virus will be “treated”, i.e. quarantined in one of Sadao’s 7 SHA extra plus certified hotels.

Ryan Lih was one of the lucky few to enter Thailand when passing Sadao yesterday via Test & Go with the first group of riders from Malaysia. He said he applied for the Thailand Pass seven days in advance and received his QR code the same day…. “There is no one to deceive. Many Malaysians are not internet savvy enough to read/follow news about the requirements [or] just assumed the old processes, by which they find out the hard way.

Local authorities said they have set up a coordination center to assist incoming visitors, most of whom have families or businesses in Thailand yesterday, the Bangkok Post reported. Meanwhile, other checkpoints in provinces along Thailand’s southern border are also expected to reopen today, the Bangkok Post reported.

Local officials have pointed out that more foreign travelers could now enter the country using the Thailand Pass system since the government has already relied on Covid-19 travel requirements under the Test & Go scheme. However, this was clearly not the case for those who mistakenly thought they could enter with just a Malaysian passport and nothing more. Indeed, that was the case in the past. Welcome to the new normal.

A better way

The situation along Thailand’s southern border stands in stark contrast to Malaysia’s southern border with Singapore, which was also pushed back yesterday for the first time in two years of a pandemic – without the pandemic-era demands of Covid-19 testing and quarantine. Now, fully vaccinated travelers can freely cross the land border at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula with only a valid passport and proof of vaccination. Children up to 12 years old who are not fully vaccinated must be accompanied by a fully vaccinated adult.

Lines of cars, motorbikes and pedestrians began to form at border crossings before midnight and successfully crossed by 1 a.m., CNA reported. By 7 a.m., more than 11,000 travelers had passed through the Tuas and Woodlands checkpoints, according to the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority, which had set up new automated lanes to accommodate the expected influx of travellers.

At Woodlands Checkpoints, about 100 people lined up to board cross-border shuttles early in the morning and vehicles honked their horns as they crossed to the other side, CNA reported…”People cheered and waved as they approached the barricades.

The reopening of the border follows bilateral agreements by Singapore and Malaysia to ease their pandemic-era travel restrictions, as the two nations adopt strategies for living with covid in a bid to end to the pandemic and restore normal rhythms of life among their populations in Southeast Asia.

Last week, the health ministers of Singapore and Malaysia said their countries were working together to fully resume air and land travel for vaccinated travellers. In the pre-pandemic era, the two countries shared one of the busiest land crossings in the world.

THE SOURCE: Bangkok Post | CNA

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