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CCSA gives details on “Phuket Sandbox” and “Samui Plus” travel schemes

Caitlin Ashworth

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Photo via Royal Thai Government

The “Phuket Sandbox” and “Samui Plus” travel schemes were approved by the Thai Cabinet yesterday, allowing the islands to reopen to travellers who are vaccinated against Covid-19. Phuket is set to reopen on July 1 while the trio of islands in the Gulf of Thailand, Koh Samui, Koh Pha Ngan and Koh Tao, is set to reopen on July 15. The details still need to be published in the Royal Gazette to make the travel schemes official.

Only tourists travelling from countries classified as a low-risk for spreading Covid-19 can enter Thailand under the Sandbox and Samui Plus schemes without going through a 14-day quarantine, according to Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson, Nopakun Natapanu, who gave details on the travel schemes during today’s Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration daily briefing.

“It will allow fully vaccinated tourists from low-risk countries, as announced by the Ministry of Public Health, to travel to Phuket and these 3 other destinations without state quarantine requirements.”

To enter under the travel schemes, travellers must be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 with a vaccine that is approved by the World Health Organisation, or by the Thai government. Those travelling under the schemes must obtain a Certificate of Entry, or COE, and present the document on arrival. To register for a COE, go to entrythailand.go.th.

Tourists must download the smartphone application “ThailandPlus,” which uses GPS and Bluetooth to track locations and to scan QR codes, keeping a record of the traveller’s trip. The app will alert a user if they have been in close contact with a Covid-19 case.

On arrival, tourists will be tested for Covid-19 either at an airport, checkpoint or hotel at the traveller’s expense. If the test comes back negative, they are free to travel anywhere on the island, Natapanu says. The spokesperson did not say what would happen if the test came back positive, but in Thailand, all Covid-19 cases are said to be treated at a hospital or medical facility until the patient has fully recovered.

Tourists travelling under the Phuket Sandbox must stay in a certified “Amazing Thailand SHA+” hotel for 14 days but can travel throughout the island during that time. After 2 weeks, tourists can travel to other provinces.

Natapanu says the approved hotels have passed the Ministry of Public Health’s guidelines for disease control and at least 70% of the staff have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.

The “Samui Plus” travel scheme is slightly different from the Phuket model. Travellers will need to stay certified resort on Koh Samui. On the fourth day of their stay, they can go to specified destinations on the island, most likely with a tour guide. After a week, travellers can go to the neighbouring islands off the Surat Thani coast, Koh Pha Ngan and Koh Tao. And after 14 days, tourists can travel to other provinces.

In Phuket, provincial authorities have set up a committee on immigration control to monitor foreign and domestic tourists entering and leaving the island province, Natapanu says.

To prepare for Phuket’s reopening, the governor signed an order relaxing disease control measures, coinciding with the nationwide easing of restrictions and zoning revision. Alcohol is now allowed to be sold in Phuket restaurants, but bars and nightclubs must remain closed.

The Phuket Sandbox will serve as a pilot project as the Thai government aims to fully reopen the country by October.

For more information on how to get into Thailand during the pandemic, click HERE.

 

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Caitlin Ashworth is a writer from the United States who has lived in Thailand since 2018. She graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and media studies in 2016. She was a reporter for the Daily Hampshire Gazette In Massachusetts. She also interned at the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia and Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida.

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