PM mulls quarantine 'bypass'

PM mulls quarantine 'bypass'

A foreign tourist undergoes a health screening before going into ‘villa quarantine’ at the Sri Panwa Hotel in Phuket last month. (Photo by Achadthaya Chuenniran)
A foreign tourist undergoes a health screening before going into ‘villa quarantine’ at the Sri Panwa Hotel in Phuket last month. (Photo by Achadthaya Chuenniran)

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has agreed to consider a proposal by the Phuket business community to allow foreign visitors to the island province who have already been vaccinated against Covid-19 bypass regular quarantine.

From next month, foreign tourists who have been vaccinated against Covid-19 will be allowed to visit six tourism provinces, namely Phuket, Krabi, Phangnga, Surat Thani (Koh Samui), Chon Buri (Pattaya) and Chiang Mai.

Those who have been inoculated, however, must still be quarantined, although the mandatory isolation period has been reduced from 14 to seven days.

In July, Phuket will be the first province to waive the quarantine requirement for vaccinated foreign visitors who have been vaccinated, as part of the government's plan to reopen the country.

As Thailand has to compete with other nations in luring back foreign tourists while Phuket has been designated the country's first tourist destination to fully reopen to vaccinated foreign visitors, the government now needs to ensure its massive inoculation programme runs smoothly and proceeds as planned, said Gen Prayut on Tuesday after the weekly cabinet meeting.

"The point is how we can we ensure the safety [of this reopening programme].

"Phuket, for instance, has proposed that vaccinated tourists should be exempted from the mandatory quarantine. Well, if possible I'm ready to take care of that," he said.

Gen Prayut said a digital platform needs to be created to register the tourists.

As for the national Covid-19 vaccination programme, he said, the Finance Ministry and Krungthai Bank have been assigned to jointly develop a digital platform to help with the proper and effective allocation of vaccines.

Allocation is handled mainly by the Public Health Ministry, he said.

Gen Prayut also stressed the need for the owner of every fresh market in the country to strictly follow Covid-19 containment protocols, including body temperature checks and wearing face masks by both vendors and shoppers, he said.

He was responding to the discovery of several Covid-19 clusters which originated in wet markets.

Deputy Bangkok governor Sophon Phisutthiwong, in his capacity as the head of Bangkok's Covid-19 Situation Administration Centre, said each district office has been told to rein in the markets and determine if they meet the ventilation and hygiene standards.

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