If you believed that PM Prayut Chan-o-cha’s declaration that Thailand will reopen in 120 days no matter what was set in stone, you don’t know much about Thailand. While the plan is still on, The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration held a meeting yesterday where they watered down the exuberant international tourism restart announcement with conditions and exceptions for the October reopening plan.
Among the conditions, the biggest may be that full reopening will only be allowed for provinces that have achieved 70% vaccination of their population. The CCSA acknowledged the distinct possibility that the Thailand relaunch might not necessarily be a fully national one.
The Phuket Sandbox model is set to begin in less than 2 weeks on July 1, but the first tourism experiment for post-pandemic Thailand could be suspended with little advance notice if Covid-19 infections swell above 90 cases per week. That low threshold means one late-detected infection could result in an outbreak cluster big enough to halt the entire sandbox opening.
Thailand’s Tourism and Sports Minister said that the entire country will follow Phuket’s lead using the same sandbox model and conditions for reopening. It requires 70% of the residents of the province to have received vaccines and 100% of the staff in the service and tourism sectors to be vaccinated.
The minister stressed that they have learned from the previous reopening attempt and will let provincial governments decide on preparedness to reopen and take the local community’s feelings into consideration. Tourism Authority Thailand and the Tourism and Sports Ministry will assist each province to maintain their own administration centre for following strict reopening conditions.
Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, and Koh Tao got some good news in the CCSA meeting when they approved a sealed route between the 3 islands to reopen from July 15. The conditions for reopening are a bit tricky though. Alternative local quarantine hotels on Koh Samui must be used, beginning with a full 3-day quarantine. The next 4 days can be spent on sealed sightseeing routes around Koh Samui, while the second week permits travel to Koh Tao and Koh Phangan.
All arriving international passengers, including Thai citizens, will be required to be fully vaccinated at least 14 days before the travel date. Entrance will only be permitted for arrivals from a country that has been designated low- or medium-risk for at least the last 3 weeks. The list of countries that fall into this category will be updated twice a month by the Public Health Ministry.
For domestic travellers, restrictions will be eased. Thai citizens and people who are permanent residents of Thailand will be exempted from the Phuket sandbox rules and 14 day stay on the island according to the governor of Tourism Authority of Thailand.
While estimated arrivals were drastically cut after the new arrival hoops and restrictions were laid out, TAT predicts 9,000 to 10,000 people travelling into Phuket for the reopening. So far 6,789 tickets have been booked on arriving flights. TAT says approximately 200 flights will begin service to Phuket International Airport next month. 18 airlines are lined up to bring international travellers from around the world.
SOURCE: Bangkok Post
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