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Officials argue most leaving Sandbox aren’t unhappy

Neill Fronde



PHOTO: Officials want people to understand those departing Phuket may not be unhappy with the Sandbox. (via

Nothing shows confidence more than repeatedly shouting “fake news.” But amid growing negative press regarding the Phuket Sandbox, officials find themselves continuously denying rumours that Sandbox arrivals are fleeing the island and going home unhappy. While many have left the Sandbox, more have arrived, and the government’s argument isn’t without merit as those who left the Sandbox have various reasons.

Phuket Vice Governor Piyapong Choowong is fighting back against social media posts that claim Sandbox travellers are unhappy with their trip and are leaving as a result. He said the Facebook post claiming this was inaccurate and it has been widely shared and been picked up by news agencies. But the vice governor seeks to clarify that, while people are departing the island, it is not because they are unhappy with how the Sandbox is going.

“I have checked with our staff and found that the information is not true. We have had some tourists fly back home, but they left because they did not want to enter quarantine. It’s their right to do so, as they were only high-risk people and had tested negative.”

Vice Governor Piyapong referred to the group of travellers in a group where one person from the United Arab Emirates was infected with Covid-19, resulting in the whole group being moved to an alternative local quarantine facility for 2 weeks. Unhappy with the situation, the Sandbox group chose to go home instead. As they were negative for Covid-19 but at risk, they were allowed to leave Thailand and return home.

Officials have tried to explain that not everyone arriving into the Phuket Sandbox were planning on staying long-term, and some have come for their short holiday and simply left when it was over. 3 groups were reported to have left Phuket already and only the first group, the ones sent to ALQ when a group member tested positive for Covid-19, had actually cut their trip short.

The second group had travelled for a brief trip to Phuket on a business trip in order to do some errands and business-related activities. Upon finishing, they flew home as planned. The third group were tourists but had only planned to stay for a short time, likely because they didn’t have the time off to take a longer vacation.

One of the 3 “escapees” who had been temporarily lost in the Phuket Sandbox was an American man who left Phuket not because he was unhappy there, but to return home for urgent business matters. His departure was not due to any failings or shortcomings by the Phuket authorities.

Phuket Vice Governor Piyapong asks people to consider the context of people departing Thailand – that they are not necessarily unhappy – and think critically before believing and rumours or negative press about the Phuket Sandbox.

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

SOURCE: The Phuket News


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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.

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