Phuket pleads to reopen all access

Phuket pleads to reopen all access

No new Covid-19 cases, governor says

PHUKET: The nation's biggest tourist island is seeking permission from Bangkok to reopen its airport, ports and permanent road access to the mainland after several days with no new Covid-19 infections detected.

Provincial governor Phakaphong Tavipatana said yesterday the province will ask the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) for approval to reopen the airport on Saturday. The current lockdown period ends at midnight tomorrow.

The CAAT ordered the airport closed since April 3 to restrict air travel as health authorities nationwide battled to contain spread of the coronavirus disease.

Three airlines have notified the province of their plans to resume limited domestic passenger services to Phuket, at one flight a day, Mr Phakaphong said.

Provincial authorities yesterday also agreed to ask the Interior Ministry to allow re-opening of all sea and road links from Saturday.

People entering Phuket would be required to follow the instructions of the Provincial Communicable Disease Committee, including filling out a form so officials can keep track of them for health checks.

Full details would be made public as soon as they were finalised, he said.

Phuket has reported no new cases since Monday.

The island had 224 confirmed virus infections, second to Bangkok, but it topped the rate of infections per 100,000 people.

Meanwhile, health experts have warned against a return of the Covid-19 outbreak after more than half of hair salons and pet grooming services failed to pass safety precaution criteria against the virus, following the state's easing of the lockdown since May 3.

Up to 63% of hair salons and barber shops cannot meet the standards while pet grooming is in a similar situation, with 53% of businesses given an "F" grade, Health Department deputy chief Danai Thiwanda said yesterday.

Many hair service providers may find it "inconvenient" to record the identities of customers, which are among factors making them unable to be listed in another two groups -- 9% with a passing grade and 27% with an excellent performance, he said.

The department also found health screening among hairdressers -- such as taking the temperature of customers and insisting customers wear face masks -- need improvement, though there were fewer wrongdoers in this category than expected.

Health screenings are also an issue among pet grooming shops, along with mistakes involving face masks and social distancing guidelines.

However, Dr Danai said, up to 40% of them did a good job, with 7% meeting the standard.

Hair salons and pet grooming outlets are among six businesses and activities allowed to resume after May 3 after the country witnessed much lower daily infections.

Others include markets and non-contact sports.

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