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Rush for fit-to-travel documents for people leaving Phuket



PHOTO: Sawadee Siam News

Authorities announced yesterday that those who want to leave Phuket by road must register online no later than Friday, May 8, to obtain fit-to-travel certificates. While the southern province of Phuket remains closed to entry, authorities have begun allowing people to leave. Tens of thousands, both tourists and Thais from other provinces, have been trapped on the island since it was officially closed in March. Many recently unemployed tourism and hospitality workers have been without income or even secure accommodation since then.

The announcement came after pandemonium on Friday when hundreds of vehicles attempting to leave the province led to traffic jams that stretched for kilometres. That afternoon, authorities once again closed the Tha Chatchai checkpoint and announced that no more would be allowed to leave until today.

When outbound road travel does finally resume, every driver and passenger will have to show a fit-to-travel certificate at the checkpoint, where the island links with Phang Nga province and the Thai mainland.

Outgoing governor Phakaphong Tavipatana said authorities were trying to help the thousands left stranded when the province closed its borders a month ago, banning both entry and exit, to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Phakaphong sought the advice of the Interior Ministry in Bangkok on how to handle the exodus. Officials said Phuket authorities must provide a list of returnees and their destination provinces. Each destination province must also issue a document to guarantee that those on the list have been screened by disease control officials or have been in self-quarantine in Phuket for 14 days before their travel.

Rush for fit-to-travel documents for people leaving Phuket | News by Thaiger

PHOTO: Bangkok Post

Authorities have now opened online registration for health certification via for those wanting to leave the province, said Mr Phakaphong.

Applicants will be required to enter their 13-digit national ID or passport number and personal information, their destination and vehicle details. If  approved, they will receive fit-to-travel certificates. They will have to show this certificate to officers at Tha Chatchai when they leave the island.

Registration can also be made and certificates received at the Muang, Kathu and Thalang district offices, and the tambon Sri Soonthon and Wichit municipal offices.

Phuket’s chief of police says around 40,000 people have registered so far to leave the island.

The deadline has predictably caused a rush for the certificates, and as crowds gathered at Tha Chatchai yesterday, about 100 police including anti-riot officers were deployed to keep order.

The chief sought the public’s cooperation, stressing that everyone must register online and print out forms to be signed by representatives of the governor and public health chief. Once they present approved forms at Tha Chatchai, they’ll receive a queue number for onward travel.

Authorities’ original plan was to allow a maximum of 5,000 people to leave the island each day.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post


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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

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