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Phuket Airport prepares for eventual launch of tourist pilot project

Maya Taylor

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Phuket Airport prepares for eventual launch of tourist pilot project | Thaiger
PHOTO: www.cgtn.com

Phuket Airport carried out a trial run yesterday, going over all the steps necessary to admit tourists under the much-discussed, not-yet-happening, off-and-on “Phuket Model”. The plan to use Phuket as a pilot, to test a limited return of international tourists, was set to launch in October but has now been postponed. The brakes were applied when Thailand recorded its first locally-transmitted case of Covid-19 in over 3 months, coupled with some concerns raised by Phuket locals, who questioned the safety of the plan.

There are hopes the plan will eventually be put into effect, with staff and officials at Phuket Airport holding a dress rehearsal yesterday, to run through every step of the process. This includes the screening of arriving tourists, document completion and checks, and transporting arrivals to their designated quarantine accommodation.

A report in Nation Thailand says several airport agencies were involved in the run-through, including Immigration, Customs, and the Tourist Police. Thanee Chuangchoo, the airport’s general manager, says should the government decide to re-open to foreign tourists, Phuket Airport wants to be ready, adding that procedures at the facility will mirror those already in place for repatriating Thais and expats at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport .

Meanwhile, the medical director at Phuket Airport says thorough health checks will be in place for all arrivals. Darunee Budin says temperatures will be checked with a Thermo-Scan and, in the event of anyone showing a fever, that passenger will be separated from others and monitored. Should their condition worsen, they will be sent to hospital.

She says all arrivals will have their documents thoroughly checked, including fit-to-fly papers and medical certificates, adding that anyone without all the required documentation will be returned to their country of origin. Those who pass all document checks satisfactorily will then proceed through Immigration and Customs, before finally being transported to their quarantine facility.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Gary

    Wednesday, September 9, 2020 at 11:26 am

    The plane can take off when the weight of the paperwork equals the weight of the plane.

  2. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    Wednesday, September 9, 2020 at 11:51 am

    I hear that they have ordered a truckload of hoops for foreign tourists arrivals to jump through.

    • Avatar

      Peter

      Wednesday, September 9, 2020 at 3:12 pm

      What tourists will those be then? Do pilots and cabin crew count?

  3. Avatar

    Perceville Smithers

    Wednesday, September 9, 2020 at 12:07 pm

    A dress rehersal for something that’s happening 6-8 mos from now?

  4. Avatar

    Rinky Stingpiece

    Wednesday, September 9, 2020 at 12:14 pm

    Who are these locals and how many are there? I guess they can’t be the ones losing their jobs?

  5. Avatar

    Kenneth Brewster

    Wednesday, September 9, 2020 at 12:26 pm

    Interesting choice of words:Launch the tourist pilot from the airport. Will spectators be allowed ?

  6. Avatar

    Jason

    Wednesday, September 9, 2020 at 4:46 pm

    The comments I have read about this article are full of sarcasm. Sarcasm is also the lowest form of wit. I am glad to see that the people of Phuket and particularly the airport staff are “going through the drills” in preparation for the eventual return of foreign tourists to Phuket. The day is coming when this pandemic will come to an end (maybe in the same way the Spanish Flu did…..there was no vaccine it just fizzled out). That readiness will put Phuket in a good position to receive foreign tourists in larger numbers. Better that, than being unprepared and being passed over for other destinations that are prepared.

    Of course having said that, the “Phuket Model”, which has been the proposition put forward by the government, has been almost universally condemned in every poll and opinion piece. Sadly, the government seems to have run out of ideas. Having achieved almost zero community transmission, the decision makers can’t decide whether to keep foreigners out (which will destroy the lives and livelihoods of the people) or let foreign tourists in (which will boost income to the lives and livelihoods of the people….and maybe the virus too). The 14 day quarantine period, irrespective of the outcome of a test (positive or negative) is illogical. The incoming tourist has a test 72 hours before departing, which has to be negative to fly. I totally understand that the Thai Government may be sceptical about the effectiveness of the testing of another country (the tourist will also suspect your own testing….that’s only fair ….and worth remembering). But why would there be a need for quarantine if the tourist tests negative (twice now)??? I can understand the tourist being in quarantine, until the result of the test is known (maybe a day or two). If the test is negative, full access to tour Phuket (and only Phuket). If positive,14 days quarantine and the possibility of being sent back to their country of origin. That is the only basis that would be acceptable to a foreign tourist. Take it or leave it.

    I do hope that the government will consider this, if they hope to attract foreign tourists back to Phuket and Thailand. It is the only logical way I can see a path out of this mess. The one thing I do hope of the Thai Government, is that they give clear direction, so that the people and businesses have a clear and defined path out of this crisis, with clear timelines. Indecision is the same as impotence.

    • Avatar

      lootarzoon

      Thursday, September 10, 2020 at 10:38 pm

      You are 100 correct.. But… That is facing a political logic against basic logic.. Government prefers to set collective hysteria & paranoia for the great move of the emergency decree month after month with full power… Am I wrong? May be,

  7. Avatar

    Brian Erhan

    Thursday, September 10, 2020 at 2:38 am

    Thailand, as many of us know, is terribly complicated and difficult to make decisions. Open or close the circus all year round so the “magnets” can rest and for a while think about how important tourists are to the country. Eating or being eaten is the question. The panic will linger for a long time in that country and the negativity will increase on the violence and the student movement which I fully agree with, go for it Democracy !!

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Pattaya police warn restaurants not to act like bars, and bars not to pretend they’re restaurants

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Pattaya police warn restaurants not to act like bars, and bars not to pretend they’re restaurants | Thaiger
PHOTO: Police warn selling chips at your bar doesn't make you a restaurant

Following the closure of entertainment venues in 41 provinces for 2 weeks (starting Friday night at midnight), Pattaya police have warned that bars acting as restaurants and restaurants acting as bars would be punished. Police have been patrolling heavily, according to The Pattaya News, to check in on venues and remind them of the penalties and fines for breaking shut-down rules. Just selling fries or chips isn’t going to cut it, according to police.

The current outbreak of Covid-19 throughout Thailand has been disproportionately spread by patrons of nightclubs and bars, including many pubs in Chon Buri and Bangkok. While the CCSA has called for a 2 week closure, the Chon Buri edict is currently open-dated, expected to be in effect until conditions improve. Patrolling police stressed that, while restaurants are allowed to stay open and sell alcohol, abusing that exception will be punished.

In previous entertainment venue shutdowns during the pandemic, many businesses took advantage of the restaurant loophole. As there’s no exact wording in the law saying people have to order food and not only drinks, many restaurants served drinks and allowed dancing and socialising without any social distancing.

Some bars were even seen hastily adding a quick food menu of easy snacks in an attempt to skirt the rules and operate as a restaurant serving alcohol. But this time Pattaya police warn that restaurants using these sneaky tricks won’t be tolerated. Even businesses with multi licenses will need to take measures to make it clear they are not operating like a bar as police will have the discretion to make judgement calls on venues.

The 2 week closure of entertainment venues went into effect on Friday at midnight and banquet halls, movie theatres, saunas and soapies are all closed. Restaurants are allowed to stay open, but with a 10 pm curfew on dine-in services. Takeaway food is allowed after 10 pm until 5 in the morning. Officials hope this latest shutdown on entertainment venues will slow the outbreak enough to avoid the dreaded full lockdowns, travel restrictions, and domestic quarantines.

This weekend saw the start of the annual mass migration of Thais back to their homes for the annual Songkran. Although the government have banned water splashing activities, the exodus from the Capital and movement around the country of millions of people has authorities nervous about the potential of Songkran to spread Covid out to the provinces.

SOURCE: The Pattaya News

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Cambodia threatens jail for Covid-19 quarantine violations

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Cambodia threatens jail for Covid-19 quarantine violations | Thaiger
PHOTO: PM Hun Sen imposes harsh Covid-19 restrictions

In the face of expanding Covid-19 infections in Cambodia, Prime Minister Hun Sen has warned that violators of quarantine may face prison sentences, and government workers could be fired if they don’t get vaccines. More than 1,000 new Coronavirus cases were diagnosed in the last 2 days along, nearly 25% of the total cases since the pandemic began. The government has forbidden out-of-province travel and implemented evening curfews in the main city of Phnom Penh. They even shut down all the tourist attractions including the world-famous Angkor Wat temple complex.

Face masks are already mandatory now in Phnom Penh, with fines up to US $250 for anyone caught violating the order. But PM Hun Sen, himself having had a close brush with Covid-19 months ago, has imposed a 2-week quarantine and has made it clear that punishment for any rule-breakers will be harsh and swift. The government has already enacted a strict bill to curb the spread of Covid-19 in Cambodia, with prison terms of up to 20 years for serious violators. In an address broadcast on state-run television, he promised a “quick trial’.

“People who break Covid measures must be sentenced, I accept being called a dictator, but I will also be admired for protecting my people’s lives.”

Cambodia began Covid-19 vaccination in February, with a million citizens already receiving at least their first of two injections. In a country of 16 million, that 6% is a healthy start for their vaccination programme. The Prime Minister also declared vaccination mandatory for all state officials and members of the military. He asserted that their job was on the line if they failed to comply.

Cambodia had done well with low Covid-19 infection numbers during the pandemic, but in February, the virus tore through the Chinese ex-pat community, with the outbreak causing a surge in infections proliferating across the country. The situation is worsening now, as hospitals in Phnom Penh are running out of beds and the government is converting large halls and local schools into medical centres for mildly afflicted patients.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Nightlife continues to play a major role in Thailand’s Covid-19 third wave

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Nightlife continues to play a major role in Thailand’s Covid-19 third wave | Thaiger
FILE PHOTO: Krystal Club Thonglor25 is one of many high-end clubs where Covid-19 spread

The current surge in Covid-19 infections now looks to be spread in large part by Thailand’s colourful nightlife, with more than 500 people contracting the more contagious UK variant (B117) of the Coronavirus. The government responded by closing all bars and entertainment venues in 41 provinces, but it may be too late to prevent a third wave of the pandemic. Many people now are critical, pointing to the first and second wave as harbingers of how the party nightlife can so easily transmit Covid-19.

At the beginning of the pandemic, partiers in Bangkok’s Thong Lor area began testing positive for Covid-19 last March. The Public Health Ministry instructed everyone to follow safety measures to prevent a big outbreak. The area is well known to be a hotspot for Bangkok’s wealthy elite and powerful with its multitude of high-end luxury clubs and bars. Although the first major cluster was at a Muay Thai boxing stadium, it was the gatherings around Bangkok’s nightlife that exacerbated the spread.

After infections started spreading, all nightlife was closed until July when Thailand overall had gained some control and contained the Coronavirus more successfully than most countries. In fact, it would be months before any new infections were diagnosed in the area.

While it’s commonly known that the next wave of Covid-19 in Thailand started in Burmese migrant worker camps centred around the Samut Sakhon seafood markets, even the second round of infections was proliferated by people enjoying the nightlife around Thailand and gambles dens in Con Buri.

There was also the case of a woman in the North who went to several bars before knowing that she had contracted the virus in January, and, when the details of her bar-hopping were released, many customers of a bar she attended in Chiang Mai had already contracted Covid-19 as well.

Meanwhile, in Bangkok, Techin “DJ Matoom” Ploypetch held a lavish all-night party in a luxury hotel in January. Facing criminal charges for violating Covid-19 restrictions, he has recovered from the virus himself but the party became a spreader event. None of these nightlife outbreaks stopped people from pouring back into the club scene as soon as it reopened in February.

Now Thailand is facing a massive shutdown with the threat of a third wave of Covid-19 inescapable. One major factor in the rapidly spreading infections is trendy evening entertainment venues around Bangkok, Phuket, and Pattaya among other areas. A 35-year-old man who contracted Covid-19 reported he had been partying in Thong Lor the month before. Testing clubgoers from bars and entertainment venues in the area revealed an outbreak of Covid-19 infections.

Krystal Club Thonglor25 gained attention as powerful politicians and the wealthy elite that frequent the club so often it’s nicknamed “Government House 2”. 1/3 of Thailand’s cabinet ministers are currently self-isolating and it was rumoured that the Transport Minister had gotten C0vid-19 from visiting the infamous Krystal Club, though rumours were later dispelled.

But growing anger has emerged towards the upscale party-going set, with the hashtag #thonglorpub trending across social media since Wednesday, and many people complaining as the country closes down entertainment venues for the next two weeks and maybe facing further lockdown procedures.

The bar and club scene is a hotspot for Covid clusters since social distancing and mask-wearing are rarely enforced, in poorly ventilated rooms with throngs of tightly packed people. A list has emerged of high society hot spots where anyone in attendance in the past few weeks is being requested to get Covid-19 tests right away after customers at each has tested positive for covid.

  • Krystal Club Thonglor25
  • Bar Bar Bar,
  • Ekamai Beer House,
  • Emerald Thonglor13
  • Dirty Bar
  • Bottoms up Thonglor
  • AINU Hokkaido lzakaya & Bar
  • the Cassette Music Bar Ekamai
  • 63 Music House Ekamai

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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