Phuket's reopening proposal wins nod

Phuket's reopening proposal wins nod

The National Communicable Diseases Committee (NCDC) yesterday gave conditional approval to the so-called "Phuket Sandbox" programme to reopen the island for tourists.

Anutin Charnvirakul, deputy prime minister and public health minister, said tourists would need to be fully vaccinated and could only arrive from certain countries.

Full details of the Sandbox entry requirements would be finalised by the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) on Friday, Mr Anutin said.

He was speaking yesterday after chairing a meeting of the NCDC, saying it had agreed with the Phuket Sandbox model, proposed by the Tourism Authority of Thailand under Covid-19 restrictions.

Foreign arrivals must come from countries where the Covid-19 situation is under control or the number of infections is moderate/low.

They should also have had both vaccine doses at least 14 days before travelling to Thailand and the vaccine they received must be authorised by the World Health Organization.

They should also have a Covid-free certificate issued within 72 hours of arriving in the country, he said.

A Covid-19 check will be done on their day of arrival, followed by further tests on days 7 and 14. They must also stay and travel inside Phuket for two weeks and only then can travel elsewhere in the country, provided all their Covid tests produce negative results.

"The CCSA will finally approve the proposal this Friday, including a decision to open for foreign tourists on July 1," said Mr Anutin. "Currently, 60% of the targeted population to get the vaccine [in Phuket] is already complete, with 330,000 people [vaccinated]. The province will reach its target later this month."

The Phuket Sandbox is the model the rest of the country is watching closely because there are high hopes reopening the tourism industry there will revive the country's economic fortunes.

The NCDC also gave the Department of Disease Control the authority to decide whether the second shot of the AstraZeneca vaccine can be extended to 16 weeks, even though the advice so far is that the gap should only be 12 weeks.

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