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New airports in Phuket and Chiang Mai will ‘ease congestion’.

Tanutam Thawan

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New airports in Phuket and Chiang Mai will ‘ease congestion’. | The Thaiger
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There’s been mainly positive response to the news that the AoT have approved the construction of two new airports – one in Phuket and one in Chiang Mai.

The Director of the Thai tourism department says the decision is an important part of the support needed for ever-growing tourist arrivals. Yuthasak Supasorn, says it is a good sign for the industry, which is a significant source of income to the country.

“It would help ease the congestion in both places. Especially for Chiang Mai airport, which doesn’t operate at all hours, the expansion will be of great help.”

Nitinai Sirismatthakarn, president of Airports of Thailand announced the approval of 120 billion baht to build the new airports over the next five years and expects them to be operating by 2025. 60 billion is being allocated to each airport. Both airports will have capacity for 10 million passengers annually.

Last year Phuket International Airport welcomed 16.2 million passengers whilst 9.9 million passengers passed through Chiang Mai’s airport, according to AOT.

The new airport servicing Chiang Mai is planned to be in Lamphun province while the new airport for Phuket won’t be on the island but just north in Phang Nga province. Both new airports are approximately 30 kilometres from the current airports.

Phuket’s current airport is still undergoing a three year upgrade including a new international terminal and a redevelopment of the old airport into a stand-alone domestic terminal. The upgrades of the domestic terminal have caused significant disruption and inconvenience for passengers – air-conditioning hasn’t been working in the domestic terminal for almost six months. There have also been important repairs to the runway surface which necessitate the closure of the runway and disruption of flights.

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Read more headlines, reports & breaking news in Chiang Mai. Or catch up on your Thailand news.

Local Thai journalist speaking fluent Thai and English. Tanutam studied in Khon Kaen before attending Bangkok’s Chulalongkhorn University.

Coronavirus (Covid-19)

4 top tourist destinations to be prioritised for Covid-19 vaccine distribution

Maya Taylor

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4 top tourist destinations to be prioritised for Covid-19 vaccine distribution | The Thaiger
FILE PHOTO

The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration says 4 of Thailand’s major tourism destinations are to be prioritised in the distribution of vaccines. They are Phuket, Chon Buri, Chiang Mai and Surat Thani. In addition, a further 9 provinces with significant infection numbers are being prioritised in the rollout of the first vaccine doses arriving in the Kingdom today.

Taweesin Visanuyothin from the CCSA says 70,000 doses will go to the hard-hit “highest control” area of Samut Sakhon, where Thailand’s second outbreak began late last year. 8,000 doses are being set aside for medical officials in the central province, along with 6,000 for frontline healthcare workers, 46,000 doses for seriously ill patients, and 10,000 doses for migrant workers and local residents.

Another 105,000 doses will be distributed to similar groups in Bangkok, in the central provinces of Pathum Thani, Nonthaburi, Nakhon Pathom, Samut Songkram and Samut Prakan, and in the western province of Ratchaburi and the Mae Sot district of Tak.

The Pattaya News reports that 14,700 doses will be sent to 4 major tourist destinations, with 4,700 going to the eastern province of Chon Buri, 4,000 to the southern island of Phuket, 3,500 to the northern province of Chiang Mai, and 2,500 going to the island of Samui in the southern province of Surat Thani.

In the case of the vaccines going to tourism spots, it is not yet known which groups will be vaccinated first, with that decision being left to the Provincial Communicable Disease Committee and other related authorities.

Meanwhile, the CCSA says other plans for the 4 tourism destinations are being considered, including the possibility of “area quarantine”, which would allow vaccinated foreign arrivals to remain within certain boundaries during their quarantine period. The Tourism Authority of Thailand has been pushing for a vaccine passport policy for vaccinated visitors, while PM Prayut Chan-o-cha says the government may consider lifting quarantine restrictions for vaccinated tourists.

SOURCE: The Pattaya News

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Thailand

UPDATE: Thailand Covid zones and your restrictions

Tanutam Thawan

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UPDATE: Thailand Covid zones and your restrictions | The Thaiger

Which of the five coloured zones are you living in? A green zone? Red zone? Pale red zone? hat’s the difference and what’s open and what’s not? If you’re not in Samut Sakhon, the coastal province just south west of Bangkok, then some of the restrictions imposed by the CCSA have recently been lifted. Here’s a quick look at what’s open and what restrictions remain as of Friday, January 29. (Some local provincial exceptions will apply)

UPDATE: Thailand Covid zones and your restrictions | News by The Thaiger

According to the list there’s a Red Zone for Samut Sakhon, called a Maximum Controlled and Restricted Area, and then the light Red Zone, called a Maximum Controlled Area. Previous Red Zones – Rayong, Chon Buri (including Pattaya) and Chanthaburi – have been downgraded to Orange Zones, aka. Controlled Area. Trat, previously a Red Zone, has disappeared off the map! (An omission – we understand Trat is now an Orange Zone).

UPDATE: Thailand Covid zones and your restrictions | News by The Thaiger

In Samut Sakhon, the epicentre of the latest outbreak around the seafood markets and coastal fishing ports, has the maximum current restrictions. Restaurants can currently stay open only until 9pm at the moment, markets and hotels are still allowed to open.

UPDATE: Thailand Covid zones and your restrictions | News by The Thaiger

The ‘pale’ Red Zone includes Bangkok and now allows restaurants to stay open until 11pm but the serving of alcohol is still banned. Bars and karaoke bars are still required to remain closed. As is the ‘bull and cock-fighting rings’. Shopping Centres are being asked not to conduct promotional activities that would draw large crowds but are otherwise still open. The city’s schools are all open although some private institutions have decided to remain closed – check with your school to confirm. Gyms and boxing gyms are allowed to re-open.

UPDATE: Thailand Covid zones and your restrictions | News by The Thaiger

The Orange Zone includes Pattaya which now permits restaurants and bars to re-open until 11pm, including the serving of alcohol, but no dancing (damn!). Shopping Centres can open as per usual and residents in the Orange Zones are now allowed to travel across provincial borders again unhindered. All this will allow some of Pattaya’s entertainment establishments a sigh of relief as they were relying heavily on some weekend traffic from Bangkok to keep the wheels turning until the tourists are allowed back into the country.

The other 3 popular tourist zones of Chiang Mai, Krabi and Phuket have been in the Green Zone throughout the current month of restrictions and can operate much as they were before December last year. But domestic airlines have slashed their flights to these areas and the few flights remaining are asking higher fares than the pre-second wave prices.

Some of the provinces will still require you to carry the Mor Chana app on your phone and other provinces, eg. Phuket, have their bespoke websites to register where you are staying. If you don’t have a mobile phone the local officials usually just check you ID and ask a few questions about where you’ve been and get contact details if they need to get hold of you.

Of course, despite the latest list of eased restrictions and changes in the colour zoning, there will be some local variances and enforcement. Local provincial governments have been given the power to add additional restrictions in some cases.

GRAPHICS: Thai PBS World

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Air Pollution

Air pollution reaches “unhealthy” levels in Thailand’s north and northeast

Tanutam Thawan

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Air pollution reaches “unhealthy” levels in Thailand’s north and northeast | The Thaiger

18 provinces in Thailand’s north and northeast are being hit by a wave of smoke and air pollution as the burning season kicks in for the country’s agricultural sector. The next 2 months are the peak of the burning off season for agricultural waste as farmers prepare their land for the next crops of corn, rice and sugar and use the fires to aid the harvest of some of their crops.

With sugar cane plantations, for example, farmers choose to burn the leaves off the plant, exposing the stalks, before harvesting the profit-making stalks, saving time and money. There are mechanical ways to achieve the same result but the farmers, pushed to slender profit margins by the multinational food companies, are unable to invest and amortise the additional costs.

The levels of PM 25 micron particulate, a measure of the smoke and haze, has been at “unhealthy” levels in Chiang Rai, Phrae, Sukhothai, Phitsanulok, Tak, Phetchabun, Phayao, Nan, Chiang Mai, Lampang, Khon Kaen, Roi Et, Chaiyaphum, Ubon Ratchathani, Saraburi, Nong Khai, Nakhon Phanom and Nakhon Ratchasima.

The Pollution Control Department are now openly admitting that the major cause of the seasonal smoke is “open burning by farmers who are preparing their land”, according to the Bangkok Post. On Monday the Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan issued orders to prevent farmers from starting the plantation fires. You can check the result of his orders in the fire map below.

Air pollution reaches

iqair.com measures the average level of PM2.5 dust in the North at between 35-85 micrograms per cubic metre (μg/m³) yesterday, considered “unhealthy”. In the Northeast, the levels ranged between 40-99μg/m³.

The Thai Pollution Control Department considers PM2.5 readings below 50μg/m³ as “safe” but the Thai standard is twice as high as what is considered safe by the World Health Organisation.

firms.modaps, the NASA satellite fire tracking service, shows the number of fires currently alight around Thailand and the concentrations in the north and north east. The fires in northern Cambodia and north east Myanmar are also contributing to the Thailand’s smog and haze, depending on which way the winds are blowing. During this time of the year, the winds are predominantly north east and light across much of Thailand. The firms.modaps feed is live, registering the fires alight at the time the screen capture was taken.

Air pollution reaches

Bangkok starts off Wednesday with relatively better air quality than the past few weeks.

Air pollution reaches

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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