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Lockdown extending as flights from dark red zones are prohibited



PHOTO: Domestic flights from dark red zones are prohibited from July 21. (via EconomicTimes)

A new announcement has declared that all domestic airlines must cease operation of any passenger flights out of the dark red zones including Bangkok and Pattaya beginning July 21. The decree comes as Covid-19 infections continue to rise in Bangkok and surrounding provinces while daily Covid cases hit 5 digits and daily deaths hit triple digits, both for the first time. The restriction also limits the capacity for all domestic flights throughout Thailand.

An exception is to be made for emergency landings, medical flights, and also for the Phuket Sandbox and Samui+ reopening flights, though details are not clear on how they will operate and if they will run in both directions as regularly scheduled.

Domestic flights will be capped at a 50% occupancy to allow social distancing for Covid-19 safety. This applies to all flights outside of the dark red zones, which increased from the original 10 provinces that include Bangkok and its 5 surrounding provinces and 4 more in the Deep South to now add 7 more provinces to the list yesterday and Ayutthaya today.

Bangkok Airways is suspected to begin cancelling flights in the wake of this new restriction. Others may follow suit as they struggle to afford the cost and burden of operating one-way flights since they are allowed to fly into dark red zones but not out. Essentially they will have to fly roundtrips with one leg completely empty in order to have planes available for the next departing flights, creating a huge financial drain on an already ailing industry.

It is currently unclear if VietJet, operating as an international airline may be able to skirt the restriction said to be for domestic airlines and keep running flights out of dark red zones.

The ramifications of how the new rule will affect the Phuket Sandbox and the Samui+ international reopening schemes but travellers who have completed their 14-day arrival soft-quarantine may struggle to travel to the rest of the country afterwards.

Public buses from Bangkok to the south have suspended services already, but some sort of land transport may be the only way to get around the country in the coming weeks though authorities ask that people refrain from travelling for non-essential reasons.

The dark red zone provinces directly affected by the new regulations are:

      • Bangkok
      • Nakhon Pathom
      • Nonthaburi
      • Pathum Thani
      • Samut Prakan
      • Samut Sakhon
      • Narathiwat
      • Songkhla
      • Pattani
      • Yala
    • ISAN
      • Surin
      • Ubon Ratchathani
      • Udon Thani
      • Chon Buri
      • Chachoengsao
      • Rayong
      • Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya
      • Ratchaburi

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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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