Phuket, Surat Thani still set to open to foreign tourists

Phuket, Surat Thani still set to open to foreign tourists

Spokesman outlines criteria that would halt reopening

Representatives of entertainment places (left) hand their written request for the reopening of their premises to Phuket deputy governor Wikrom Jakthee, centre right, at the provincial hall on Tuesday. (Photo: Achadtaya Chuenniran)
Representatives of entertainment places (left) hand their written request for the reopening of their premises to Phuket deputy governor Wikrom Jakthee, centre right, at the provincial hall on Tuesday. (Photo: Achadtaya Chuenniran)

The planned reopening of Phuket and Surat Thani provinces remains intact despite more than 4,000 new Covid-19 cases and 35 deaths nationwide on Monday, according to the government's senior epidemic spokesman.

Taweesilp Visanuyothin, spokesman for the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration, said on Tuesday that  the reopening of Phuket on July 1 and Surat Thani (Koh Samui and Koh Phangan islands) later remains possible. Both provinces were reporting new daily cases in single figures.

Surat Thani had 1-9 new cases a day from Saturday to Tuesday, and Phuket's numbers had been 2-5 a day since June 16.

Dr Taweesilp said that there were clear criteria for the government to stop the reopening.

For Phuket, they were:

-  more than 90 new Covid-19 cases per week

-  outbreaks in all three districts

-  more than three clusters or widespread and unrelated infections

-  at least 80% of local hospital beds occupied

-  a widespread and uncontrollable outbreak of virus mutations

Dr Taweesilp said there would be four steps, based on the number of new cases, in any lockdown of Phuket, as follows:

-  reduction in activities

-  sealed routes

-  hotel quarantine

-   an end to the Phuket Sandbox reopening project

For Koh Samui and Koh Phangan, their reopening would be halted if Covid-19 cases exceeded the number of local hospital beds, the spokesman said.

Dr Taweesilp reported 4,059 new Covid-19 cases confirmed over the past 24 hours. 

Representatives of entertainment venues met Phuket deputy governor Wikrom Jakthee at the provincial hall on Tuesday, seeking permission to reopen their premises when the island province opens to foreign tourists on July 1.

They also asked for assistance, saying workers in the entertainment sector of Phuket had no income since the government-ordered the closure of their businesses to control Covid-19.

They said they could operate while strictly observing disease control measures.

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