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Authors: Panarat Thepgumpanat and Chayut Setboonsarng
BANGKOK (Reuters)-A government official said on Tuesday that Thailand plans to reopen its borders to workers from neighboring Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos to ease labor shortages, which are hurting its exports and an economy that relies on tourism.
The Ministry of Labor’s Pairote Chotikasathien said that regulations related to the vaccination status, quarantine procedures and COVID-19 testing of migrant workers will be decided on Wednesday.
Thailand’s large export industries such as food and rubber production rely heavily on foreign labor. But strict border control and quarantine rules actually prevent all labor migration.
Pairote estimates that the country needs 420,000 foreign workers at this time, mainly in the construction, manufacturing and seafood industries. Many workers left the country because it fought the worst COVID-19 outbreak earlier this year but did not return.
According to the factory and building quarantine plan, some workers who stayed in the country were placed under the "bubble and seal" policy.
Thailand has nearly 2 million confirmed infections and 19,764 deaths, most of which occurred after April, when the Delta variant was found among migrant workers in construction camps.
(Writing by Chayut Setboonsarng; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)
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