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It’s happening: Phuket sandbox approved by Cabinet

Maya Taylor

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PHOTO: Flickr/( ´_ゝ`) Sho

It’s been talked about until the buffalo came home – and then some. It was on, it was off, it was delayed, then it wasn’t. Finally, it’s been confirmed. After being closed to foreign tourists for over a year, the southern island of Phuket is set to re-open on July 1.

Yesterday, the sandbox scheme, which will see the island pilot a return to international tourism, was approved at a Cabinet meeting and now awaits publication in the Royal Gazette. The planned re-opening of Koh Samui, Koh Pha Ngan, and Koh Tao on July 15 has also been approved. In all cases, foreign arrivals will need to be fully vaccinated in order to enter without quarantine.

The Bangkok Post reports government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri as saying disease control measures will remain in place and the re-opening can be cancelled if sandbox areas start to record over 90 infections a week.

From July 1, vaccinated foreign arrivals (from a list of countries drawn up by the Public Health Ministry and subject to ongoing revision) will be free to enter Phuket without quarantine and can travel freely around the island. However, they will be required to remain on Phuket for at least 14 days before travelling elsewhere in the Kingdom. The only exception to this rule is for those coming for shorter visits, who must then leave Phuket on an international flight.

The re-opening 2 weeks later of tourism hotspots Samui, Pha Ngan, and Koh Tao, will restrict vaccinated tourists to “sealed routes”. They will be required to spend their first 3 days in a government-approved hotel. From day 4, they will be permitted to travel on the sealed route, which they must stick to until day 8. From day 8 until day 15, they can visit the other 2 islands.

The Tourism & Sports Ministry is responsible for the re-opening of other parts of the country and has invited other tourism destinations to submit their re-opening plans ahead of proposals going to the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration.

Meanwhile, Anucha has responded to doubts cast over the PM’s earlier statement that the country would re-open fully by October. He has acknowledged the concerns raised, adding that the PM is aware of the need to strike a balance between public safety and economic recovery.

For more information on how to get into Thailand during the pandemic, CLICK HERE.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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