PHUKET: Three yachts flying foreign flags arrived in Por Bay yesterday, the first day of a limited reopening in the tourist island.
A medical worker wearing protective gear takes a swab sample for a Covid-19 test from a visitor aboard a foreign-flagged yacht moored in Por Bay in Phuket. (Photo by Achadthaya Chuenniran)
Vice Admiral Cherngchai Chomcherngpat, Commander of the 3rd Naval Area Command, in his capacity as head of the Thai Maritime Enforcement Command Centre (Thai MECC), said Thailand has begun to allow foreign yachts to enter the kingdom. The first day was Friday.
The three yachts -- one Austrian and two Malaysian -- were moored in a designated area of Por Bay in Phuket for the Covid-19 screening and quarantine of passengers.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Oct 21 instructed the Thai MECC to facilitate the arrival of foreign yachts and impose measures to ensure the vessels and their crew remain in the designated area.
The Thai MECC will also provide assistance to the yachts and crew during times of emergency, said the commander.
The Austrian yacht Crabby travelled from a port in Europe. Investigator ll, the first Malaysian vessel travelled from elsewhere in Thailand, while the second, Cayenne, came from Malaysia.
All three yachts were operated by a foreigner, said Rear Adm Suchart Premprasert.
Less than 10 other yachts have requested for permission to dock at Por Bay today. Each one of them is required to strictly abide by the government's Covid-19 rules.
Phuket earlier asked the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration for a limited reopening to welcome about 60 foreign-flagged yachts and cruise vessels.
Before entry, yacht and cruise vessel operators or owners are required to prepare travel plans, identification documents and health insurance policies which cover Covid-19 treatment and have a minimum coverage of US$100,000 (3 million baht) per person, and consent to quarantine.
The vessels must switch on their Automatic Identification System around the clock, from their ports of origin all the way to Thailand.