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Officials: Don’t believe viral video, Phuket bridge checking all entries



FILE PHOTO: Despite a video showing otherwise, Phuket's governor says the bridge checkpoint is strictly enforced.

When the Phuket Sandbox launched, restrictions to enter the island by land were tightened to match, requiring any overland traveller to provide proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test within 72 hours of arrival or be denied entry. Authorities are once again reinforcing that messaging after a video has gone viral appearing to show vehicles passing freely through the Phuket bridge checkpoint without any inspection.

The video posted to social media on July 2 is 2 minutes and 15 seconds and narrated by a man saying he’s seen 6 trucks and a motorbike pass without stopping while he was filming. He supposes that the Phuket Sandbox will fail since the lack of actual inspections will allow more infections of the more contagious Delta variant to easily enter and spread in Phuket.

Authorities have fired back that the video is fake and should be ignored, even going as far as to say some locals are offering rewards for the identity of the man in the video for spreading disinformation. The Public Relations Department of Phuket put out a statement on Monday stating that the information in the bridge crossing videos is false and should not be shared or believed.

“To those who have watched the video, please do not believe or share it. It is false information which means to damage the image of Phuket.”

However The Thaiger has been contacted by numerous people in the past 6 weeks claiming that they have passed through the Tha Chatchai checkpoint without being stopped or checked.

Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew stands behind the strictness of the Phuket Checkpoint, assuring people that everyone crossing the bridge onto Phuket will be checked. The option before the sandbox of entering untested and quarantining 14 days is no longer available. Not quite as strict as international flights, where both a negative Covid-19 test and full vaccination are required, land crossings require either vaccination confirmation or a negative Covid-19 test from within the last 72 hours, Narong says.

“From July 1, Phuket government [officers] have checked people who cross the bridge and come through Phuket Check Point as strictly as the checking at the airport. If arrivals have not been vaccinated or tested before coming, we will not allow them entry to the island, as we need to control the number of infected cases [sic]. So, arrivals may face an inconvenience, but it is necessary [for them] to be checked.

Officials seem to be repeatedly reiterating the point as confusion seems to swirl, with that viral video and other stories online claiming to be trapped in Phang Nga, unable to return. The government keeps trying to hammer home the message though – get vaccinated or get tested and then you can return.

Incoming domestic flights have been following the same restriction since the first, and Governor Narong has further instructed the Chief of the Phuket Land Transportation Office to arrange with buses coming from around the country to check their Phuket-bound customers for a Covid-19 vaccination or negative test before allowing them onto the bus to avoid people being loaded off the bus and denied entry at the bridge checkpoint into Phuket.

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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