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Phuket re-opening could be postponed

Maya Taylor

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Phuket re-opening could be postponed | Thaiger
PHOTO: Dive Magazine

The Tourism Authority of Thailand says plans to re-open Phuket to foreign tourists could be delayed as a result of the country’s first local case of Covid-19 in over 3 months in Bangkok. TAT governor, Yuthasak Supasorn, was speaking as officials visited the island to meet with local businesses and discuss disease prevention measures and preparations for a scheduled October 1 opening, under tight restrictions.

The government had been hoping to allow around 200 Australian and New Zealand visitors to come to Phuket, provided they tested negative for Covid-19 prior to departure and carried out 14 days’ quarantine on arrival. After 14 days, if the plan had gone ahead, the travellers would be free to leave their quarantine accommodation and travel around Phuket, although travel elsewhere in Thailand would require an additional 7 days’ quarantine… or so the ‘plan’ went.

Unfortunately, this plan failed to take into account that Australians are currently not allowed leave their country and the New Zealand government is advising its citizens not to travel overseas unless it is an urgent matter. In any case, it now looks like the plan, aka. the “Phuket Model”, has hit another bump in the road as authorities confirm the Kingdom’s first case of community transmission after 100 days of zero community transmissions.

But Suwannachai Wattanayingcharoenchai, from the Department of Disease Control, says it’s unlikely the Bangkok DJ who has tested positive for Covid-19 is a “super-spreader”. The 37 year old tested positive while carrying out 14 days of quarantine in a Corrections Department facility after being sentenced for drugs offences.

Suwannachai claims the man did not have direct contact with customers while working as a DJ. There are thought to be around 708 people who had some sort of direct or indirect contact with the man, with 140 classified as “high-risk”. One of the high-risk contacts became a “Patient Under Investigation” after developing a fever, but has since tested negative for the virus.

Meanwhile, the Bangkok Post reports that domestic tourism in the Kingdom is not doing as well as officials had hoped. Over the long weekend surveyed hotels were averaging around 30% occupancy and approximate spending calculated at around 8.8 billion baht in total, well below predictions for the 4 day extended long weekend (with 2 days added as Songkran holiday substitutes). However, Yuthasak says tourism has improved since July, adding that the government is adding extra incentives to its domestic tourism stimulus package.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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22 Comments

22 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Stuart

    Sunday, September 6, 2020 at 8:05 am

    Convenient face saving excuse. This plan was a non starter from many angles. Assuming you could actually find 200 tourists willing to visit under the ridiculous conditions imposed upon them, no one has even commented on how exactly you are going to close down an area of 1 km around any participating hotel, how are you going to actually physically stop a tourist leaving the zone, and what about all the locals that live in this zone? Outrageous level of stupidity.

  2. Avatar

    Gary

    Sunday, September 6, 2020 at 8:17 am

    Further destroying everything for one case? Unbelievable, the people so scared of this virus should research hepatitis and every other disease out there, which are more prevalent.

  3. Avatar

    Richard King

    Sunday, September 6, 2020 at 8:33 am

    The Australian ban on overseas travel was enforced durimg the first international borders was closed, So no reason Thai Government would not know that between that and the cap for returnig flights back into Australia means people trying to get back since the first time is difficult enough let alone now.
    And wont be opened untill maybe mid next year if lucky.

  4. Avatar

    EdwardV

    Sunday, September 6, 2020 at 9:27 am

    Not surprised one bit. You could see this so called postponement coming from a mile away. To have people show up the first of October, the details would already be known. It takes weeks to get all the documents for a special Thai visa, people would have already started the process. As to the stated reason I’m not buying it. If a single case can detail something this important then you might as well not open up until after a vaccine is in widespread use. A single case is setting the bar unrealistically low.

  5. Avatar

    Sami

    Sunday, September 6, 2020 at 11:50 am

    The weird policies and mentality of the Thai government never stop to baffle me. The saddest part is that the poor common person is paying the price. The government needs to decide whether it wants its people to fall sick due to the virus or die from hunger and bankruptcy

    • Avatar

      Steve

      Sunday, September 6, 2020 at 4:45 pm

      Most Thais have family members that are farmers or fishermen. Farmers and fishermen don’t starve. My God, man! Thais have been self-sufficient long before mass tourism. They don’t need farangs to support them.

      • Avatar

        Bob

        Tuesday, September 8, 2020 at 10:32 pm

        Any idea ‘Steve’ how many Thais used to work in Tourism or who relied, indirectly, on tourism to earn a crust? How they getting on now, in your opinion? Certainly seems you think they are all just doing fine. Well, sorry to pi55 on your parade, but they ain’t doing just fine!

        • Avatar

          Sami

          Thursday, September 10, 2020 at 1:13 am

          Well said Bob…such characters like Steve need to listen to what the Thai Health minister has=d said a few days ago…

  6. Avatar

    ray atkins

    Sunday, September 6, 2020 at 1:09 pm

    no one can leave australia… not sure about new zealand is this sloppy reporting or confusion with the local government?

  7. Avatar

    Jilted John

    Sunday, September 6, 2020 at 2:11 pm

    ‘Unfortunately, this plan failed to take into account that Australians are currently not allowed leave their country and the New Zealand government is advising its citizens not to travel’

    Nothing quite like doing your research…

    • Avatar

      Willie Chang

      Monday, September 7, 2020 at 2:37 pm

      So where are the Australian cricket team playing their T20 matches?

  8. Avatar

    Bobby M

    Sunday, September 6, 2020 at 2:24 pm

    It’s ok, don’t rush. We are not coming. You lost at least 80% of those considering it when they read your conditions and requirements. We don’t need it.

    I have a friend who had No option but to return as he has a wife and business there. All done, quarantine and tests. The fees came to 180.000 thb.

    One business closed, the other closing and investments removed.

    • Avatar

      Willie Chang

      Monday, September 7, 2020 at 2:46 pm

      For the life of me, I don’t know how people can open businesses in Thailand. There is no profit to be made in that country and anybody tell you they made moneyshere is lying. The place is simply a rundown wasteland pretending to be a country or under the illusion that it’s a country. The leaders are like sheep and possess not a single original idea.

  9. Avatar

    MikeH

    Sunday, September 6, 2020 at 2:24 pm

    One local case as an excuse not to open. Not exactely unexpected.
    Only thing left to do now is find a way to blame it on “Dirty Farang”. I wonder how many people will come back to Thailand after opening up sometime in late 2021.

  10. Avatar

    Steve

    Sunday, September 6, 2020 at 2:42 pm

    Regardless of what people think of the coronavirus, foreigners tend to forget that they are visitors to Thailand with absolutely no authority on how this country is run. Foreigners come off sounding like arrogant sanctimonious a**holes when they criticize Thai authorities for the decisions they make. Outside the “entertainment zones” this is still a traditional society where it is common for multi-generational families to live under one roof. Unlike the west, they don’t put their elderly in nursing homes to die alone. If Covid-19 ever spreads to the villages, thousands of elderly will die. I hope you now realize why the Thai authorities are being so cautious with reopening. A little understanding and patience is what’s needed.

    • Avatar

      Perceville Smithers

      Sunday, September 6, 2020 at 11:10 pm

      Good post. Certain Westerners sometimes think their way is the only way and always wanna tell “others” how things should be done.

    • Avatar

      m

      Thursday, September 10, 2020 at 12:50 pm

      it’s just the flu; there’s no pandemic, all of this is just a trick to distract you from all the money the government, the corporations and the banks are stealing; it’s just the flu !!

  11. Avatar

    Jim

    Sunday, September 6, 2020 at 2:51 pm

    Well, and even if this means the end of tourism industry in Phuket, will you be tearing your clothes and tossing dust on your heads? I won`t.

  12. Avatar

    China One

    Sunday, September 6, 2020 at 4:43 pm

    Good job Thailand
    Continue to keep the western trash overboard.
    Chinese tourists will soon arrive in Thailand. you don’t need western garbage that cannot cope with the coronavirus.

  13. Avatar

    Stephen Westrip

    Sunday, September 6, 2020 at 6:32 pm

    Perhaps someone in Thai Government will explain this – if you are going to test and quarantine tourists why does it matter what country they come from? If travel/health insurance is mandatory it won’t cost Thailand in that regard. Add to that, tourists would not travel if they thought they were infected. They want a vacation not a prolonged hospital stay!

  14. Avatar

    Patrick Nouvel

    Sunday, September 6, 2020 at 9:13 pm

    The posponement 1 year of 2 subs value 22.5 billions bath .. The postponement of tourism regulated anti covid correct clever measures will cost between 600 to 800 billions.. Just think about the consequences, better invest in tests facilities and hospital care

  15. Avatar

    Michael

    Monday, September 7, 2020 at 11:39 pm

    Some critics say that you will always have a certain number of false-positives, and also the virus is not more deadly than the normal flu.

    If those statements were true, you would never be able to eliminate it, nor would you have to, see Sweden.

    It is actually a fact that billions of dollars are given to the different governments by the IMF, but of course only if they keep locked up — because only then, they need the big(!) help.

    Of course the money is spent wisely for the help of the population. I am sure that the distribution is actually monitored and documented transparently. And that this money really always is reaching the right places.

    Otherwise, those lockdown-billions might be creating a conflict of interest for the powerful decision-makers. So that they might feel the need to “overprotect” their population… And have more money to distribute at their will.

    https://www.imf.org/en/Topics/imf-and-covid19/COVID-Lending-Tracker

    Money

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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 plays major role in Covid-19 third wave

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Nightlife plays major role in 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.

A normal night has thousands of people roaming the streets into the late hours of the evening. But 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 mainly from migrant workers and low wage market workers, even the second round of infections was proliferated by people enjoying the nightlife around Thailand. There was a 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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