As the date of Phuket’s re-opening to vaccinated foreign tourists draws closer, officials are busy preparing all necessary measures prior to the influx. The “sandbox” scheme kicks off on July 1 and provincial officials have been rehearsing immigration and Covid-19 control measures at Phuket airport, the island’s ports, and the Tha Chat Chai checkpoint by the bridge onto the island.
According to a Bangkok Post report, a number of strict measures are being put in place to ensure vaccinated tourists don’t spread Covid-19 to the local population and to prevent foreign arrivals from violating the rules of the sandbox scheme. As it is, all foreign tourists will be required to spend a mandatory 14-day period in a government-approved hotel before they can travel elsewhere in Thailand. The only exception are people who are only holidaying on Phuket, who may leave whenever they like but must take an international flight off the island.
Tourists will also be required to download the Mor Chana tracking app and will be fitted with location-tracking wristbands, which will come in handy should they accidentally leave their phones at the hotel. Officials have confirmed that facial recognition cameras are being fitted to identify vaccinated tourists who try to travel to elsewhere in Thailand before their 14 days on Phuket are up. In addition, they are busy devising punishments not only for these tourists, but for anyone who tries to help them.
The latest measures are in addition to several onerous requirements that vaccinated foreigners must meet before they can fly to Phuket. These include obtaining a certificate of entry from their local Thai embassy, proof of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of boarding their flight, health insurance coverage of at least US$100,000, and proof of payment for a booking at a government-approved hotel. On arrival at Phuket airport, they will again be tested for Covid-19 (at their expense), before being transferred to their accommodation. Further PCR tests will follow on day 6 and day 13.
According to the Bangkok Post report, deputy Phuket governor, Phichet Panaphong, is expecting to welcome 129,000 foreign tourists under the sandbox scheme and says it will generate around 11.4 billion baht for the island. Tourism operators are not holding their breath.
SOURCE: Bangkok Post
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