Koh Phangan and Koh Tao islands relax visitor restrictions today

PHOTO: Koh Tao and Koh Phangan islands ease restrictions from today. (via Darren Lawrence for UnSplash)

Joining the rush for restrictions easing as Thailand aims for the big leap to unquarantined reopening (for some) without a certificate of entry (for some) on November 1, the popular tourist islands of Koh Phangan and Koh Tao have eased their entry requirements starting today.

The governor of Surat Thani, home to the Samui Plus Sandbox reopening as well as these 2 neighbouring islands, announced that anyone fully vaccinated with 2 doses can now enter Koh Tao and Koh Phangan without any quarantine or Covid-19 test.

Those without full vaccination must show a negative Covid-19 test taken within one week of arrival. Only approved antigen test kits or RT-PCR tests will be accepted.

All visitors to Koh Tao and Phangan will be required to install and use the Mor Chana app and QR code scanning at businesses and services across the islands. They must also register their travel online using the Save Koh Phangan and Save Koh Tao programmes that will issue them a health pass.

79% of people are now fully vaccinated with 2 vaccines after a major push that involved ramping up vaccination centre capacity at 20 hospitals in the region. The venues were vaccinating 25,000 people per day, according to the Surat Thani governor.

In Koh Tao, the president of the local tourist association says that 86% of people on the island are fully vaccinated. She believes that the relaxed entry requirements will provide a big boost to the island’s ailing tourism industry that focuses heavily on scuba diving.

Meanwhile, Koh Phangan, home to a robust new age community that harbours vaccine scepticism and conspiracy theories, just kicked off its third booster shot vaccination program recently.

On October 21 an increase on ferry and boat service is planned to go into effect, with more ferries running from nearby Chumphon to Koh Tao, as well as speedboat service being arranged from Donsak pier in Surat Thani and Muang district.

While the islands, where the vast majority of industry and income is based on tourism (Koh Samui’s coconut industry is a distant second), are planning full speed ahead to reopen, Covid-19 infections and deaths are still a big problem in the surrounding provinces and on the islands.

Koh Samui had 11 new infections today, and 39 just 2 days ago when a cluster of 29 merchants were confirmed with Covid-19 at Phra Yai fresh market near the airport prompting a 2-week shutdown. And in nearby Nakhon Si Thammarat province to the south had 18 deaths just in the last 2 days with a record high weekly death toll.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.