Phuket eases Covid restrictions for some visitors
PHUKET: The provincial communicable disease committee has agreed to lift the mandatory 14-day quarantine period for people arriving from Bangkok and Samut Prakan to help boost the local economy hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Governor Narong Woonciew said the decision to ease Covid-19 restrictions for visitors travelling from Bangkok and Samut Prakan, two provinces with high infection rates, follows calls from the business community seeking to lure visitors to Phuket.
On Friday, Phuket businesses met provincial authorities and proposed an end to the mandatory quarantine period for people travelling from certain high-risk areas in hope of stimulating the tourism industry as Chinese New Year is approaching.
The cabinet has recently approved eight special holidays for this year, including Feb 12 for Chinese New Year.
Phuket has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic due to the absence of foreign tourist arrivals. The strict precautions, which were introduced after a fresh round of the outbreak, have kept local visitors away.
Kongsak Khoopongsakorn, president of the association of Thai hotels in the southern region, said the business operators urged the provincial authorities to ease some Covid-19 restrictions to allow the local economy some room to breathe.
"The private sector was asking for a relaxation [of the rule] because the economy is stagnant. The 14-day quarantine [requirement] for people from at-risk areas is tantamount to a lockdown of the province," he said.
Sarayuth Mallum, president of the Phuket travel industry council, however, said strict disease control measures remain necessary to protect local people and tourists from contracting the virus.
Dr Thanit Sermkaew, chief of the provincial public health office, said health volunteers will be told of the latest easing of restrictions while stressing that all visitors must register on gophuget.com ahead of their visits. They will also required to use the Mor Chana contact tracing application wherever they go.