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Officials inspect Phuket and consider Covid-19 lockdown extension

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: Nation Thailand

As Covid cases surge and weekly infections rates are now over 10 times the original threshold of 90 infections that would prompt a reconsidering of the Phuket Sandbox, officials in Phuket are now discussing an extension of lockdown measures on the island.

Pol Maj-General Surachet Hakparn (yes, Big Joke is back!) and his team inspected the Phuket Sandbox and the 7+7 Extension scheme that allows people to leave Phuket after their first 7 days and travel to one of the approved zones in Krabi, Phang Nga, and the Koh Samui islands for their second week of the arrival observation period.

The major-general said that Phuket authorities are working with the National Health Security Office to find solutions for the increase in cases. They may conclude that an extension is needed of the domestic lockdown measures in place in Phuket. They also are looking for ways to lessen the cost of testing, asking for financial assistance to reduce the costs or provide free tests.

Currently Phuket is currently listed as an Orange Zone. There are two levels of restrictions higher – Red Zones and Dark Red Zones, like Bangkok.

The team inspected Phuket International Airport to observe procedures there for arriving international travellers. They checked out the safety measures and preparations to continue to welcome foreigners and tourists to the island safely despite the sharp increase in Covid-19 infections.

They also looked at the overland entrance to Phuket via Sarasin Bridge and inspected the Tha Chatchai checkpoint. There, large crowds of people waited to received Covid-19 tests to confirm they were negative and allowed to enter the province.

With the current lockdown measures ,mostly curbing domestic travel into Phuket, those wishing to enter must not only have a negative Covid-19 test within 72 hours of arrival and confirmation of their vaccination, but also a work permit or documentation that they meet the few categories allowed into Phuket now.

The original 12 exceptions for domestic travellers to enter…

  1. Ambulances and other emergency rescue vehicles
  2. Transporting medical supplies
  3. Transporting food and consumer goods or agriculture and livestock
  4. Transporting gasoline and petrol
  5. Bank money transportation vehicles
  6. Transporting parcels and printed media
  7. Ticketed flights approved as essential travel (no holiday or leisure travel)
  8. Those permitted by the Phuket Disease Control Department
  9. Government officials with urgent matters in Phuket
  10. Those with court appointments or meetings with investigators
  11. Construction materials for government-approved projects that help people
  12. Approval at the discretion of checkpoint officers (perhaps a catchall for grey areas)

Last week, authorities eased restrictions slightly to include a few more exceptions…

  • Anyone returning to Phuket who can produce a house registration book that confirms they are a resident of the island or anyone who can show evidence of being permanently employed on the island
  • Foreign tourists in the country under the Phuket sandbox scheme or other tourism project. Drivers or service providers who can prove they are operating as part of an authorised tourism scheme, such as the sandbox.
  • Anyone arriving for essential business who cannot postpone the visit. Anyone else travelling for essential reasons, who will be admitted on a case-by-case basis, at the discretion of checkpoint bosses.

A meeting this afternoon will address whether the lockdown will continue, what restrictions may change, and what can be done about the cost of testing and the safety of the island as new Covid-19 infections continue to rise.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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

 

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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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