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Phuket sealed off from tomorrow in bid to curb virus spread, save sandbox

PHOTO: Idaytripth from Pixabay

From tomorrow, the southern island of Phuket shuts its doors to all but essential delivery services, in a bid to curb the spread of Covid-19. A provincial order states that a ban on all domestic travel to and from the island will remain in place until at least August 16.

“Phuket needs to come up with measures that aim to reduce and restrict movements to contain the spread within the limit and level that public health systems can accommodate.”

While all domestic flights between Phuket and 13 “dark red”, high-risk provinces have already been suspended, the latest order bans travel of any form between Phuket and everywhere in the country. Up until now, people could come on to the island if they met certain criteria, including being fully vaccinated and having proof of a negative Covid-19 test.

Phuket officials are anxious to protect the sandbox scheme, which has allowed the island to re-open to vaccinated foreign tourists, providing a much-needed lifeline for desperate locals. Most Covid-19 infections on the island are cases of community transmission, with only 30 infections detected in the 13,281 foreign visitors who’ve arrived as part of the sandbox programme. However, with cases on the island continuing to rise thanks to the highly-contagious Delta variant, officials have taken the drastic step of sealing it off from the rest of the country in an effort to bring the numbers down.

From tomorrow, all domestic arrivals, whether by land, sea, or air, will be barred from entering, with the exception of emergency vehicles and the delivery of medicines and medical supplies. Also exempt from the ban is the delivery of livestock, agricultural products, fuel, and other essential supplies. People who need to get onto the island to take an international flight are also exempt, as are officials on urgent duty and those working to curb the spread of Covid-19.

The ban does not affect foreign visitors arriving as part of the sandbox scheme, who will be welcomed as normal. However, a newly-approved proposal that would have allowed them to travel elsewhere in the country after 7 days on Phuket (reduced from 14) has been shelved.

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


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Maya Taylor

A seasoned writer, with a degree in Creative Writing. Over ten years' experience in producing blog and magazine articles, news reports and website content.

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