The Phuket government has found itself in a precarious predicament, caught between domestic and international tourism. While walking a tightrope between local and international, authorities have just announced what essentially amounts to a domestic lockout with new travel restrictions into Phuket going into effect on August 3.
The Sandbox scheme is a critical step for international tourism to finally return to Thailand after nearly a year and a half of the Covid-19 pandemic, while the numbers are still far too low and domestic movement in and out of Phuket is now of considerable importance to the island as well. But the vast majority of Covid-19 infections that are increasing each day in Phuket are locally transmitted, not from international Sandbox travellers.
50 new local cases were reported today with one death, and only one international Covid-19 infection. Of the 30 international Sandbox Covid-19 infections, all have been mild or asymptomatic and as of yet none being identified as the source of a cluster.
With that in mind, all ports of entry to Phuket by land, water, and air have been instructed to forbid any domestic traveller to enter between August 3 and 16 with only a few narrow exceptions. Even for those exceptions, all entering must be both fully vaccinated 14 days in advance minimum (or have recovered from Covid within the last 90 days) AND test negative for Covid-19 with a certified RT-PCR or Rapid Antigen test less than 72 hours before entering.
Students commuting for school who are under 18 and can’t be vaccinated will get a school ID and an RT-PCR test from the Phuket Public Health Office good for 1 month at a time. People with vaccination appointments in Phuket will be allowed to enter with proof of appointment and a negative Covid-19 test within 72 hours.
Aside from the above, no domestic travel – international travellers will not be affected by these rules – will be allowed to enter Phuket except for these 12 exceptions:
- Ambulances and other emergency rescue vehicles
- Transporting medical supplies
- Transporting food and consumer goods or agriculture and livestock
- Transporting gasoline and petrol
- Bank money transportation vehicles
- Transporting parcels and printed media
- Ticketed flights approved as essential travel (no holiday or leisure travel)
- Those permitted by the Phuket Disease Control Department
- Government officials with urgent matters in Phuket
- Those with court appointments or meetings with investigators
- Construction materials for government-approved projects that help people
- Approval at the discretion of checkpoint officers (perhaps a catchall for grey areas)
SOURCE: The Pattaya News
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