The Center of Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA), Thailand’s government’s body overseeing disease control measures and COVID-19 policies, has approved TCEB’s proposal to allow MICE events to be held under “COVID Free Setting” protocols, effective October 16.
The approval follows the government’s announcement on October 11 that fully vaccinated overseas visitors will be allowed to enter Thailand without having to serve quarantine from November 1. The reopening will begin with a list of countries the CCSA considers low-risk, such as the US, UK, China, Germany and Singapore. Also announced were shortened curfew hours, fewer provinces categorised as maximum controlled and strict zone where stringent controls are mandatory for gatherings, and allowing domestic flights to operate at full capacity.
The approval of TCEB’s MICE proposal was the result of the collaboration between TCEB, Department of Health, Department of Disease Control of The Ministry of Public Health, and 23 partner organisations, such as Tourism Authority of Thailand, Thai Chamber of Commerce, Thai Exhibition Association, Business Creative and Event Management Association, and Thai Hotels Association. With the green light, organisers of meetings, trade fairs, and festivals can now proceed to plan events with more attendees that will stimulate the broader economy.
Under TCEB’s proposal, limits on a venue’s operating hours and number of attendees will be relaxed. Trade fair centres, convention centres, exhibition halls, and event spaces in hotels and department stores will be allowed to operate until 22.00 hrs. in all cities and provinces. The number of attendees allowed will depend on the event site’s risk level. There are five levels – maximum controlled and strict zone (highest risk), maximum controlled zone, controlled zone, high surveillance zone, and surveillance zone (lowest risk). For maximum controlled and strict zone, the number of attendees allowed has been raised from 25 to 50; for maximum controlled zone, from 50 to 100; for controlled zone, from 100 to 200; and for high surveillance zone, from 200 to 300. However, for surveillance zone, the number has been maintained at 500.
This easing of restrictions will require venues and organisers to strictly follow a set of three “COVID Free Setting” protocols covering the event environment, personnel, and customers:
COVID Free Environment requires attention to hygiene at every touchpoint, availability of handwash stations and hand sanitisers, individual servings of all foods and beverages, screening of organisers and staff, pre-event and onsite communication on safety measures, risk and emergency management plan, social distancing of at least one metre and at least 4 sqm for each attendee, a limit of two hours per meeting session, and good air ventilation.
COVID Free Personnel requires organisers and venues to deploy only fully-vaccinated staff with a screening and risk record. Staff must undergo self-test with Antigen Test Kit (ATK) and test negative no more than 72 hours prior to reporting for work. Gathering while on duty and during breaks are prohibited. Operation zones must be clearly designated and cross-zone operations must be avoided.
COVID Free Customer requires an examination of an attendee’s risk profile and proof of full vaccination. The attendee must strictly follow “DMHTA” – distancing, mask-wearing, hand washing, temperature testing, download of Thai Chana application. Additionally, attendees must keep watch of any possible COVID-19 symptoms during attendance and post-event for at least 14 days.
To organise an event, the organiser must first develop a plan based on “COVID Free Setting”, produce an emergency plan and select a venue certified with SHA+ and TMVS Plus 2HY. The plan must then be submitted for review by the communicable disease committee of the city where the event will be held. If the committee requires any adjustments, the organiser must comply. The implementation of “COVID Free Setting” will be randomly inspected by officers from the city’s public health authorities or communicable disease committee. After the event, the organiser must submit a report to the city’s communicable disease committee and safekeep the record of attendees for at least 14 days.
Mr. Chiruit Isarangkun Na Ayuthaya, president of Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) stated that “TCEB’s proposal incorporating “COVID Free Setting” is the first step towards reviving MICE in Thailand. The next step would be for TCEB and its partners to push for further easing, especially for larger size events.”
Mr. Chiruit added that TCEB’s proposal is to unlock cities to host events by implementing a high standard of safety. The last quarter of the year is usually a peak period for Thailand’s MICE industry and the proposal is expected to benefit around 1,000 wait-listed events in Bangkok and other cities. With the go-ahead by CCSA, TCEB’s proposal will pave the way for a broad spectrum of stakeholders such as venues, hotels, transport operators, restaurants, and other related businesses to kick-start their operations, which will, in turn, stimulate the local economy and facilitate income distribution throughout the country. However, the implementation of TCEB’s proposal is subject to the trajectory of the COVID situation and TCEB and its partners are prepared to recalibrate the industry’s response to stay on course to re-open Thailand for MICE.