Cabinet approves Phuket sandbox

Cabinet approves Phuket sandbox

Islands in Gulf eye July 15 reopening

Patong beach in Phuket, normally a tourist magnet, is nearly empty in November 2020. (Photo by Apinya Wipatayotin)
Patong beach in Phuket, normally a tourist magnet, is nearly empty in November 2020. (Photo by Apinya Wipatayotin)

The cabinet on Tuesday approved the Phuket sandbox tourism scheme that sees the island reopen on July 1, followed by a trio of destinations in the Gulf of Thailand -- Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao -- on July 15, allowing in fully vaccinated tourists from some countries.

Government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri said the reopening was pushed by local entrepreneurs after the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) agreed in principle with the plan on June 18.

Mr Anucha insisted disease control measures and close monitoring will remain in place as required by the CCSA. The reopening scheme would be scrapped if there are more than 90 infections reported per week in tourism areas.

He said vaccinated foreign visitors are allowed to travel to Phuket without state quarantine requirements. However, they are required to stay in Phuket for 14 days before travelling to other provinces in Thailand. If they stay in Phuket for fewer than 14 days, they are required to fly back via a direct flight.

Those who travel to Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao are required to travel only via a "sealed" route scheme. For the first three days, they must stay in approved hotels.

They can travel along the sealed routes between days 4-7, then from days 8-15 they can travel to the other two islands.

Mr Anucha said the Tourism and Sports Ministry is responsible for the reopening of other tourism areas. The ministry advised local agencies and companies to come up with their own reopening plans before submitting proposals to the CCSA.

As many organisations have expressed doubts about the government's declaration to reopen the country by mid-October, Mr Anucha said the premier acknowledged such concerns.

Mr Anucha cited the premier's statement that the government needs to strike a balance between the economy, public health and infection control.



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