Less than 10 days after the less-than-thrilling Samui Plus reopening that saw just 31 international arrivals to Samui (with 2 to Koh Phangan and 1 to Koh Tao) so far and 110 people from the Phuket Sandbox, Surat Thani province in which the islands reside has announced immediate Covid-19 measures to curb the spread of the virus. The announcement today applies to foreigners as well as Thai nationals and applies new procedures for arriving on the islands, and more restrictions for businesses on the islands.
The Governor of Surat Thani Province signed the provincial order yesterday in an attempt to preempt the possibility of Covid-19 outbreaks on the islands as the Samui Plus reopening gets underway, especially with Covid-19 spreading in record numbers across the rest of the country. The measures hope to keep infected travellers out and keep the people inside, residents and tourists, safe.
ARRIVING TO THE ISLANDS
With the new rules, everyone entering the island are required to scan a QR code when they get their ticket, either for ferries or flights. The code brings them to a registration page to collect your information in advance, which they will confirm either at Donsak Pier for Raja or Seatran Ferry or at the origin airport before boarding a flight.
Arrivals from orange zones will have some leniency, and just need to follow isolation measures on first arriving. Those coming from other zones will face full quarantine if they are untested and unvaccinated. For red zones under strict control, a 7-day quarantine will apply. Self-isolation can be substituted for people who are vaccinated and have negative RT-PCR or rapid antigen tests for Covid-19. Those coming from the maximum control dark red zones have similar conditions but must quarantine for 14 days if untested and unvaccinated.
For all conditions, Covid-19 tests must be done at a certified healthcare facility within 72 hours of arrival onto the islands. “Vaccinated” means having received 2 doses of Sinovac or Sinopharm at least a week prior to travel date, or a single does of AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson at least 3 weeks prior to travel, or having certification showing recovery from Covid-19 within the last 90 days.
These Covid-19 safetly rules also apply to all travellers in the Samui Plus program, the Phuket Sandbox, or other reopening test plans, and on arrival, officials can apply testing or quarantine as needed. Airlines and ferries will be held responsible for confirming travellers have been notified of the requirements and documents are verified before travelling to the islands. Children under 12 years old that are accompanied by a parent or guardian will not have to endure testing.
One unpopular feature of the Phuket Sandbox scheme that has now been introduced to the Samui Plus programme – the Mor Chana app must be downloaded, installed, and activated on mobile phones for all arrivals, with the share location function active at all times.
ON THE ISLANDS
Restrictions have been enacted slightly tightening the rules to limit the spread of any Covid-19 that reaches the islands, where rules and regulations have been lax and often not enforced, with many bars and clubs open in violation of national orders and mask-wearing and social distancing often casually ignored. In fact, gatherings over 50 people being forbidden and trainings, meetings, and similar being restricted to 70% capacity, not to exceed 100 people.
Events are limited to 50 people, alcohol is not allowed, and food can be takeaway only. Otherwise, traditional ceremonies, parties, carnivals, celebrations and similar are all permitted. Most other businesses have been permitted to open fully and following their regular business hours. All venues for food, shopping, sports, and exercise are allowed to open including restaurants, shopping centres, parks, gyms, and yoga studios.
While getting to the island may require some entry hurdles to protect from Covid-19, the Samui Plus program offers life on fairly unrestricted islands, once you survive the quarantine.
SOURCE: TAT Newsroom