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Phuket re-opening could be postponed



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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