Govt quells fears over exodus

Govt quells fears over exodus

Motorists wait their turn to cross the bridge at Tha Chatchai and leave Phuket island for the southern mainland early on Friday. (Photo by Achadtaya Chuenniran)
Motorists wait their turn to cross the bridge at Tha Chatchai and leave Phuket island for the southern mainland early on Friday. (Photo by Achadtaya Chuenniran)

The Interior Ministry on Sunday gave assurances that the thousands of people leaving Phuket for their homes in other provinces have already been screened for Covid-19.

"They have been instructed to carry their medical certificate with them on their journeys," said Chatchai Phromlert, permanent secretary for Interior.

His comments came after people in many provinces, especially in the South, expressed concern after seeing the long tailbacks of outbound traffic on Friday and Saturday.

Phuket is seen as one of the coronavirus hotspots in the South, having so far recorded 220 infections and two deaths. People in other provinces are worried the infection might spread to them.

Mr Chatchai said 3,600 people left the resort island yesterday, 70% of whom were residents of the 11 southern provinces with the rest headed to 50 other provinces nationwide.

Phuket has a population of about 100,000 people who aren't locals and about half of them had notified authorities they were out of jobs and registered for permission to leave Phuket when possible, he said.

"All of them want to leave Phuket but not everyone has been able to do so as three out of the 17 provincial tambons have yet to grant permission to leave," he said.

Citing an announcement in the Royal Gazette on Friday, he said everyone is still being urged to refrain from travelling unless the matter is urgent, such as to attend a funeral.

These journeys require special permission and a document of authorisation, he said.

Every traveller allowed to leave Phuket has to ensure they won't break the nationwide curfew as well, said Pol Maj Gen Rungrote Thakurapunyasiri, chief of Phuket's provincial police.

They are currently permitted to leave between 5am and 8pm, allowing sufficient time for them to get home before the curfew begins at 10pm, he said. Up to 700 people who had already booked their departure times were being allowed to leave Phuket every hour on Sunday, he said.

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