Safe and Sealed gears up to greet Phuket visitors
The Tourism and Sports Ministry is preparing to introduce the Safe and Sealed plan in six regions where local residents will allow international tourists to visit under a 14-day quarantine in restricted areas.
In the first meeting of the newly formed Center for Economic Situation Administration, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha agreed in principle to allow inbound tourists in Phuket from Oct 1 under limited conditions.
"There is no need to come with a tour group," said Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn. "Individual travellers can visit some provinces, but they have to abide by strict screening rules, as were other groups that were previously allowed. Different hotels that share the same beach within a one-kilometre radius can group together as a sealed zone. This plan will allow tourists beach activities."
After completing the two-week quarantine, foreign tourists can travel freely within Phuket. But if they want to travel outside the province, they need to stay for a further seven days.
To calm local fears about possible virus exposure, all hotel staff must stay in the sealed area. If they want to travel elsewhere, they must have a swab test and enter a 14-day quarantine too.
Mr Phiphat said the transport minister will visit Phuket on Sept 5 and 6 to inspect sea transport linking the three Andaman Sea provinces -- Phuket, Krabi and Phangnga -- with an aim to assure that tourists under 14-day quarantine cannot travel freely without scrutiny.
This visit will also include other top officials from three ministries -- Public Health, Interior, and Tourism and Sports -- keen to hear public opinion on the plan.
Mr Phiphat said that while the state agencies are confident about controlling tourists' air and land travels, there are loopholes with sea transport, with some tourists already using this method to break quarantine.
After visiting Phuket, state agencies will hold public hearings in other potential provinces.