Roadblock for Pattaya's reopening plan

Roadblock for Pattaya's reopening plan

The Public Health Ministry is baulking at Pattaya's plans to allow vaccinated foreign holidaymakers to return in the fourth quarter of the year without the need to quarantine.

The seaside town recently proposed what officials dubbed "Pattaya, Move on", a plan to welcome back tourists in the peak season after giving Covid-19 vaccinations to more than two-thirds of residents and hospitality workers.

The scheme would allow fully vaccinated foreign tourists to enter Pattaya without the need to quarantine for 14 days, even though they would have to remain in Bang Lamung and Sattahip districts for seven days before being allowed to travel elsewhere.

However, Thanes Supornsahasrungsri, acting president of the Chon Buri Tourism Council, said on Friday the ministry had voiced concerns about the idea.

Unlike the resort island of Phuket, Pattaya is more of an open town and health officials feared it would be difficult to regulate the movement of tourists, Mr Thanes admitted.

He said Pattaya still hoped to prepare for a full reopening by facilitating a "soft reopening" during August and September with the "sealed route" restriction.

This would require even fully vaccinated foreign tourists to stay at their hotels for three to five days after which they could travel to pre-approved places which have a Safety & Health Administration (SHA) hygienic standards certification.

The tourist chief said that measure should help to ease the health authorities' concerns ahead of the hoped-for reopening in October and was optimistic Pattaya would get more vaccine doses to cover at least 70% of local residents as soon as it had a clear timeline for its reopening.

About 900,000 vaccine doses are needed to inoculate 450,000 people, or 70% of its population, he noted.

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