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“Phuket Model” to be re-named, expanded to all of Thailand

Maya Taylor

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“Phuket Model” to be re-named, expanded to all of Thailand | The Thaiger
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A much-talked-about plan to reopen Phuket to international tourists is set for a rebrand and expansion. The plan, formerly known as the “Phuket Model”, is proposed to be re-named “Special Tourist Visa”, and will now cover all of Thailand. But, in its latest incarnation, the model will only allow tourists from “approved countries” to be involved.

Apparently, the Phuket plan encountered some opposition, and a lot of confusion, and so, officials have decided the best solution to all of that is to expand it nationwide.

Tossaporn Sirisamphan, from the National Economic and Social Development Board, says the plan will now be rolled out to the entire country (it’s not clear if the “entire country” wants it or will be involved in the decision).

“The Phuket Model has caused confusion and opposition… Therefore, we’ve adjusted the plan to allow foreign tourists to travel at large, since some of the provinces such as Bangkok have the capability to handle foreign tourists.”

Prior to this, the scheme was aimed at Phuket only, as a pilot model in a controlled environment, with tourists having to carry out an additional 7 days’ quarantine on top of the mandatory 14, if they wished to travel beyond the province. That requirement appears to have been scrapped, at least for today.

Tossaporn says the revised plan has the backing of Thai PM, Prayut Chan-o-cha, adding that foreign tourists admitted under the scheme will be subject to the same health restrictions as repatriating Thai nationals.

“They will undergo the same measures as Thais returning from overseas. After spending 14 days in quarantine and being cleared of the virus, they can go anywhere they wish.”

The government has yet to decide which countries these hotly-anticipated tourists will come from, with Tossaporn saying the Tourism and Finance Ministries will work together to come up with a list of qualifying countries.

Meanwhile, Tourism Authority of Thailand governor, Yuthasak Supasorn, says the Kingdom must accept the possibilityof new Covid cases once the borders are re-opened, insisting the impact can be minimised through proper risk management.

SOURCE: Khaosod English

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25 Comments

25 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Tourist number one

    September 10, 2020 at 12:20 pm

    “Qualifying countries” oh boy. If everyone has to quarantine why only certain countries can come. If you reopen completely you can have a decent amount of tourist willing to quarantine. Limiting the tourist pool just makes the plan less likely to succeed.

    • Avatar

      Kondababu

      September 11, 2020 at 11:53 pm

      Yes,this may help to boost the tourism economy

  2. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    September 10, 2020 at 12:35 pm

    Great, tourists can choose to be confined to a hotel room for 14 days at great expense all over Thailand now, not just Phuket.
    The Thais are becoming desperate now . . .
    They say that the Phuket model caused some confusion.
    Naw, there is no confusion. It is a rip off unneeded deal from a arrogant deluded government.

    • Avatar

      Patrick Jacquemyn

      September 10, 2020 at 7:59 pm

      What does matter if country of origin is high or low risk when mandatory test and 2 weeks quarantaine?

  3. Avatar

    Mike

    September 10, 2020 at 12:40 pm

    If I’m willing to pay and quarantine for 14 days what difference does it matter what country im coming from.
    Most countries are lying about numbers reported anyway just to look good

  4. Avatar

    Rinky Stingpiece

    September 10, 2020 at 12:58 pm

    Tossaporn perhaps ought to point out to decision-makers that tourists aren’t very likely to spend lots of money up front (several thousand dollars) for 2 weeks locked up in a room (not really much different from being locked up in a room at home), when they can’t even be sure that they can get back home and get paid for 2 weeks on their return… the total duration of a normal 2 week holiday effectively becomes 6 weeks, with 4 weeks locked up… the total cost of a holiday is effectively doubled or even tripled, at a time when many people are even more price sensitive than usual.

    • Avatar

      Mike Frenchie

      September 10, 2020 at 2:36 pm

      Absolutely! This is completely nuts…

  5. Avatar

    Ray W.

    September 10, 2020 at 1:26 pm

    well its a step in the right direction, only 120 days too late. The Country of origin constraints seem a bit dumb. After a 14 day quarantine you should know if the tourist has covid or not. Why should we care where they’re from if they don’t have covid let them in, we need the capital flow and it would be nice to not seem like a bunch of isolationist bigots.

  6. Avatar

    Lance

    September 10, 2020 at 2:10 pm

    So let me guess …. America is not going to be an approved country right ? Sigh!

    • Avatar

      Perceville Smithers

      September 10, 2020 at 10:56 pm

      Nope! People forget there’s not a large American presence but still a presence and, some have a Thai wife and child.

    • Avatar

      ada

      September 11, 2020 at 11:33 am

      I really hope they will not allow Americans.

      • Avatar

        Dave

        September 14, 2020 at 2:00 am

        Why? If I quarantine for 14 days and test negative what difference will it make? If I am not allowed my fiance and I cannot get married. We would have gotten married before I left but the marriage authority was closed. Now I am being treated like a tourist when I am not. I cannot even get permission with a elite visa.

  7. Avatar

    Mark

    September 10, 2020 at 2:11 pm

    I concur 14 days quarantine in Bangkok is fine why complicate matters on a 90 day visa that’s ok

  8. Avatar

    Bobby m

    September 10, 2020 at 2:21 pm

    Well if its true, then it’s green shoots and that’s good. However, just like any rice crop it can grow or fail.

    Unless it’s a world away from the Phuket model I believe it will fail. Tourists do not want to spend 14 days in prison, nor do they want continual expensive testing regimes, inflated flight prices, or any demand to buy local insurances.

    14 days Quarantine needs to be replaced by minimising contact, strict social distancing. Mask wearing, track and trace. etc.

    Tests are becoming pretty pointless and pretty much valid for the the moment in time they are taken, with false positives and false negatives. Temperature checks on departure, arrival and maybe daily by the visitor, reporting any significant rise to an agreed department. I would certainly be checking mine and would not wait if it suddenly went up.

    International insurance that covers Covid is quite sufficient.

    Just a suggestion

    Extend 30 day free visa to 45 days
    Sanitised taxi from airport to destination or car hire (Booked in advance if not local to arrival point)
    Strict social distancing for 14 days at whatever accommodation you are staying, hotel, apartment of family home.
    Normal social distancing thereafter.

    Unless something like this is put in place and costs are kept down. 90% of the tourists you seek just will not come. It’s much easier and far less expensive to go to other countries. A friend returned recently because of business ownership and it cost 180.000 Bht.

    It’s good you recognise that there will be some cases. It’s inevitable and those will have to be managed carefully, but you have already proved your ability to do that.

    I really hope the green shoots start to grow. How much and how well is up to you.

  9. Avatar

    Mike Frenchie

    September 10, 2020 at 2:34 pm

    NOBODY except – maybe – retired returnees will come! Who in his/her right mind will come to be jailed for 14 days at his/her costs? This is totally delusional.
    Banks have massive loan exposure towards the service/tourism sector… expect the uncollectable loans to skyrocket soon wiping out more than half of the bank’s capital.
    Then, they will reopen like there is no tomorrow.

  10. Avatar

    Jase

    September 10, 2020 at 4:50 pm

    I’m so keen to holiday I’ll take the 14 days quarantine. I’ll stay on for a further 2 months to make it worth while. It’s not an ideal scenario but it’s not going to change to suit me any time soon so I’ll take what I can get. Bit of a bummer to have to quarantine again when I return but that’s on me. Want the holiday then pay the piper. Also helps being from New Zealand so I like to think I’m a starter.

  11. Avatar

    EdwardV

    September 10, 2020 at 4:58 pm

    Thailand just admitted two people from France into Phuket, a country going thought a huge spike and high numbers. Is that the bar Thailand will be using to decided what counties will be allowed in or not? Some consistency would be nice but of course not to be expected.

  12. Avatar

    Jason

    September 10, 2020 at 7:06 pm

    I have this feeling that by the time peak season comes around (November to March),there will be no quarantine requirement at all. As long as you tested negative before departure and tested negative on arrival (maybe with a brief quarantine until the test result is available and negative), you will be able to tour and stay as it was before the pandemic. That is both sensible and prudent and acceptable to foreigners. Thailand will have to determine low risk countries it deems are a safe risk.In the world, we have been so focussed on those who have the virus. But remember….the majority of the worlds’ population don’t have the virus.

    As long as the screening is thorough, all will be well. So get your testing regime in place and have a quick turnaround on tests and results. Then we can all get back to a real normal.

  13. Avatar

    james

    September 10, 2020 at 11:28 pm

    I know, let’s have a plan, in order to have a plan, which we can change and then plan again, then we can plan again and then rename the plan and by the time we have got around to opening Phuket it will be a year from now and the virus will have been ‘cured’ anyway.

    Then we can have a new plan.

  14. Avatar

    Geoff

    September 11, 2020 at 10:20 am

    The 14 day quarantine at hotels of their choice was quoted last week, to cost between 100,000 and 200,000bt. (7000+ per day! That’s a helluva lot per day, on top of everything else. No normal tourist, retired or not, can afford that. I suspect, as someone else has said, that these requirements won’t be popular, and will be drastically pruned in the next couple of months.

  15. Avatar

    Gary Stephens

    September 11, 2020 at 1:03 pm

    What happened to the 1KM rule on the Phuket model where from day 1 quanantine you could go with 1km of the hotel

  16. Avatar

    Politenessman

    September 12, 2020 at 6:18 pm

    They don’t seem to get it, there is nowhere in Thailand that I want to go badly enough to be locked in a hotel for 14 days, I can lock myself in my home for free.

    I get that they are trying to find a zero risk way to get tourism back on, but this is a waste of time and effort.

  17. Avatar

    Dave

    September 14, 2020 at 2:04 am

    I wonder what their excuse will be when people have taken the vaccine? I am wondering if there are other agendas than just Covid-19.

  18. Avatar

    Kevin

    September 15, 2020 at 12:41 am

    There is a huge disconnect between what people commenting here are discussing and what the Thai government is trying to achieve.
    The Thai government is trying to bring in retired Europeans for multiple-month medical tourism. This isn’t about Phuket or any other “tourist” spot. This is about recasting Thailand as the “Safe” sanctuary with top notch medical facilities. And as of right now that is exactly what Thailand is.
    My medical care here in Thailand is so far superior to my care in the USA that I almost can’t call them the same thing. And if you’re coming here to stay safe away from Covid you’re not going to mind the quarantine.

  19. Avatar

    Maag

    September 17, 2020 at 8:40 pm

    Amazing plan . Tourists will rush to Phuket by million .
    Should built fastly more hotels to welcome them !

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Top 10 things that have changed in Thailand during the Covid-era

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Top 10 things that have changed in Thailand during the Covid-era | The Thaiger

Things have changed. In some cases they’ve changed a lot and may never be the same again. Many people are suffering as a result of the impacts of lockdowns and the border closures. Entire industries, like aviation and entertainment, have been profoundly affected. Some people are being forced to re-invent their lives as a result. Fears over Covid-19 are causing people to change their habits and re-evaluate their lives. Here are some of the main things we believe have changed since January this year.

Face Masks

The now ever-present face mask will be with us for a long time. In Asia, it was never uncommon to see people wearing face masks for traffic, air pollution, fears of disease or just as a fashion statement.

In the Covid-era, mask wearing will now just become part of what we wear when in public spaces. When we leave home we’ll check if we have our keys, our wallet AND our face mask. Even when the government relaxes the current laws about the wearing of face masks, most people, we predict, will continue to wear them anyway, at least in the medium to long term.

Taking Your Temperature

It’s everywhere, it doesn’t appear to be very effective or reliable, but it’s not uncommon to have your temperature taken by someone pointing an infra-red thermometer at your head numerous times a day. The only people that appear to have benefitted from these temperature checks are the manufacturers of infra-red temperature check machines. But in the Covid-era they remain an ever-present reassurance that at least businesses are trying and want to be seen as contributing to the broader public health safety.

Flying in the Covid-era

While the domestic carriers are all flying again, they’re doing it tough. Planes are sometimes half-empty and there’s certainly less choice of times and destinations, compared to before the Covid travel restrictions set in.

But it hasn’t stopped the budget airlines from making the situation extremely competitive with the fares still very low. The aviation industry will certainly re-emerge with fewer airlines as some will be unable to weather the Covid storm. Even the Thai government’s announcement of soft-loans to airlines, with 2% interest, will do little to help and simply kicks the bankruptcy can down the road a few more months.

Confidence

Many business had to close during the lockdown. Some have re-opened. Others tried to re-open but have since closed again. Some are struggling along as best they can, tweaking their business models to cope. But people, through fear or simply being unable to afford it, are going out less and spending less. People are rediscovering the values of close communities, family or the joys of Netflix and at-home entertainment.

The impacts of recessions across the region will have long-lasting, profound effects on consumer confidence and behaviour. People’s renewed confidence will lag behind any eventual economic recoveries.

Eating Out

There’s been few clear winners in all this Covid mess. But delivery companies are one of them and the local motorcycle delivery services in particular. Grab Food and Food Panda are just two examples of the new way we eat and many restaurants are changing their table service model, and even their take away services, to suit the new normal of food-on-demand. Some restaurants have even closed their doors forever and turned into virtual restaurants, delivering food exclusively through the convenience of app ordering and delivery.

Even as the situation has eased to a large degree in Thailand where a lot of daily living is back to ‘normal’, people simply aren’t going out as much, have pivoted to the delivery services for some shopping and eating, and finding new ways of running their lives, closer to home and with less household outlay.

The Travel Industry

Apart from the obvious lack of international tourism, there’s no doubt we’re simply going to be travelling less in the short to medium term. Many people will be unable to afford the long holidays of the pastand may travel less, or not at all. For business we’ve found efficient ways to keep in contact without meeting face to face. Had anyone ever heard of “zoom’ video conferencing software before Covid?

For the communities that relied on tourism, the changes in their situation has been profound. Businesses are having to reinvent their model to cater for domestic tourism or simply find other ways to diversify their business plan, or just wait out the situation. That wait will eventually kill off a large chunk of local and foreign businesses.

The Economy

Thailand is in recession. So is everywhere else, and the situation, sadly, is likely to get worse as the Covid-era stretches out beyond 2020 and restrictions hold back investment. Some previously good businesses are now out of business. Businesses that were struggling before have been proven unsustainable and closed, probably never to re-open.

Globally, the government stimulus poured into local economies has caused artificial spikes in some stock markets. All this debt will need to be repaid at some stage. In other countries, where the government paid salaries for companies that were forced to close up or sack staff, are finding it hard to ween people off the grants and get them back to work.

In Thailand the economy has been hit hard, particularly in the export , tourism and hospitality industries. The downstream effects of all the staff losing their work, will have an effect on the local economy for many years.

Thailand, reliant on international tourism, has found itself exposed once the borders were closed. As the situation extends way past the ‘few months’ people were expecting, the full impact is starting to hit hard, particularly in places like Pattaya, Phuket and Chiang Mai. Their reliance on tourism has exposed their economies and left thousands wondering what else they can do to sustain themselves.

Whilst Thailand has recovered quickly from past political unrest, tsunamis and past pandemic threats, this time there will be a much longer path to recovery and will force many businesses to re-evaluate their businesses.

Work from home

Both Thailand’s commercial property market and businesses that have previously had centralised offices, have seen a big shift in behaviour. Driven by the need to work from home during the lockdown in April and May, many businesses magically discovered that they can actually function perfectly well with their employees working from home. The flow-on effects of all this is reducing traffic on the roads, lighter peak traffic loads, flexible hours and, of course, larger businesses wondering why they’ve been renting all this expensive commercial building space. Freelance work is a boom industry as company’s work forces move online instead of in-office.

The red light industries

The reality has certainly hit home for tens of thousands of Thailand’s sex workers. Although not officially recognised in Thailand, prostitution has been a huge local underground (and not-so-underground) industry in the past, creating its own micro-economy involving locals and international tourists.

Without official government acknowledgment, the jobs of Thai sex workers are not recognised and their salaries vanish once the bars and borders close. No rights, no unemployment pay. The number of prostitutes in Thailand is upwards of 100,000, and these workers have had to head home, many back to the northern and northeast provinces. Thailand’s red light districts were locked down for almost 3 months and bars and clubs, and the bar girls and boys, have been struggling ever since.

The pause button

There are few people that have not been profoundly affected by the impact of the coronavirus. Whilst some have been confronted directly with health issues, and even the deaths caused by Covid-19, of friends or relatives, others have had to put their lives and businesses on hold.

People have been unable to travel, business doors have been closed, many people have lost their job and thousands of events have had to be cancelled or postponed.

Even though many parts of the economy are being to grind back into action, there will be a lingering hang-over for just about everyone as they re-orient their lives to suit the new situation. In some cases, the pause button may have to be hit again, as the world continues to battle Covid-19, and find new ways to live with it.

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Thailand seals its 2,000 kilometre border with Myanmar

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Thailand seals its 2,000 kilometre border with Myanmar | The Thaiger

Thailand’s Department of Disease Control remains on alert, and patrols increased along the Thai/Myanmar border, as Thailand’s western neighbour continues to register a spike in new Covid 19 cases – between 430 and 670 people each day, over the past 4 days. The DDC director-general Suwannachai Wattanayingcharoenchai told Bangkok Post that Thai “business operators should stop hiring foreign workers, especially Myanmar people, to help prevent a second wave of Covid-19 infections in Thailand.”

Myanmar’s number of confirmed cases has now reached 7,177 with 129 Burmese succumbing to the virus at this stage. Yesterday the four national papers suspended circulation, waiting out the sudden surge of cases.

Thailand seals its 2,000 kilometre border with Myanmar | News by The Thaiger

Further west, in Bangladesh, the country is registering 1,600 – 1,800 new cases per day, but falling, and India, which is still registering 75,000 – 97,000 cases per day (over the past week), is likely to surpass the US total in the next few months if the present case trends continue.

The fluid borders in the region continue to worry Thai officials who are scrambling to better secure the long border between Thailand and Myanmar, which runs from Chiang Rai in the north to Ranong in the south. Even Malaysia, to the south of Thailand, has had a recent spike of new cases, some of the outbreaks in the northern Malay state of Kedah which shares Thailand’s southernmost border.

Myanmar’s largest city, Yangon, is now in a deep lockdown, including directing people to stay home, except for emergencies or to buy food, most schools around the city are now closed and residents are not allowed to visit neighbour’s homes and 2 people outside is considered a ‘gathering’.

Meanwhile the border checkpoints have become busy where Burmese are trying to cross into Thailand as fears sweep their country about the rise of the cases. The DDC chief says that “tough legal action will be implemented against those found to be involved in human smuggling gangs”.

Yesterday a Burmese teenager, living near the Thai-Myanmar border tested positive for Covid-19. The 17 year old boy tested positive for Covid-19 last week in Myanmar’s Payatongsu district, about 5 kilometres from the Three Pagodas Pass checkpoint bordering Kanchanaburi. The Pass, and the border zones around it, are a fluid mix of Thai and Burmese locals doing day-to-day trade. The teen started having symptoms on September 11 and tested positive a week later.

In another case, a 2 year old Burmese child tested positive for Covid-19 after leaving Thailand. A report from Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health Disease Control Department says the child most likely contracted the virus while travelling from Thailand to Myanmar around September 4 to September 10. The family travelled to Mae Sot and entered Myanmar through natural passageways. 2,635 people in Mae Sot tested negative for Covid-19.

In some border districts, police have placed barbed wire along the leaky jungle border to deter people from crossing the 2,000 kilometre-long border illegally. Security has increased and dozens of migrants have been arrested in the past month for trying to cross into Thailand illegally. Even volunteers have stepped up to patrol the borders. No migrants arrested for allegedly crossing the border have tested positive for the virus at this stage.

SOURCES: Bangkok Post | Reuters | Chiang Rai Times

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Teen near the Thai-Myanmar border tests positive for Covid-19

Caitlin Ashworth

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Teen near the Thai-Myanmar border tests positive for Covid-19 | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thairath

A Burmese teenager who lives near the Thai-Myanmar border tested positive for Covid-19. Now, Thai border patrol officers are tightening security even more to make sure Myanmar’s outbreak doesn’t cross the border and cause a second wave in Thailand.

The 17 year old Burmese boy tested positive for Covid-19 last week. Reports say the teen was in Myanmar’s Payatongsu district, about 5 kilometres from the Three Pagodas Pass checkpoint bordering Kanchanaburi. The teen started having symptoms on September 11 and tested positive on September 17.

Only around 13 people were reportedly in close contact with the teen and they are now in quarantine at a district school. Health officials suspect the teen was exposed to the virus from his uncle who had travelled to Moulmein, a large city near Yangon which had a spike in coronavirus cases. The uncle has been tested and is in quarantine, but his test results are still pending.

In another case, a 2 year old Burmese child tested positive for Covid-19 after leaving Thailand. A report from Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health Disease Control Department says the child most likely contracted the virus while travelling from Thailand to Myanmar around September 4 to September 10. The family travelled to Mae Sot and entered Myanmar through natural passageways. 2,635 people in Mae Sot tested negative for Covid-19.

Since Myanmar reported a surge in cases, starting mostly in the country’s Rakhine state on the western coast, Thailand has been increasing border patrol to make sure people are not entering Thailand illegally and potentially spreading the virus. Now that there are cases in some Myanmar border towns, Thailand checkpoints are on high alert.

The daily number of Covid-19 cases in Myanmar continues to rise. The country reported a total of 6,471 cases with 100 deaths and 1,445 recoveries, according to Worldometer.

In some border districts, police have placed barbed wire along the border to prevent people from entering illegally. Security has increased and dozens of migrants have been arrested in the past month for allegedly entering Thailand illegally. Even volunteers have stepped up to patrol the borders. No migrants arrested for allegedly crossing the border have tested positive for the virus.

Daily new Covid-19 cases in Myanmar

Teen near the Thai-Myanmar border tests positive for Covid-19 | News by The Thaiger

The daily number of Covid-19 cases in Myanmar continues to rise. As of September 22, the country reported 6,471 cases with 100 deaths and 1,445 recoveries, according to Worldometer.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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