'Control, capacity and jabs' key to success

'Control, capacity and jabs' key to success

Crowds return to the check-in counter at Suvarnabhumi airport on Monday after the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand allowed airlines to operate flights at full capacity last week. The agency also allowed airlines to operate more services as the night curfew has been shortened to 11pm-3am. (Photo: Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)
Crowds return to the check-in counter at Suvarnabhumi airport on Monday after the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand allowed airlines to operate flights at full capacity last week. The agency also allowed airlines to operate more services as the night curfew has been shortened to 11pm-3am. (Photo: Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)

The Nov 1 reopening of the country to fully vaccinated tourists without quarantine next month is being guided by three key factors, according to a senior public health official.

They are the Covid-19 situation, the capacity of the public health system to control the pandemic and treat patients, and the vaccination rate in the 17 provinces set for reopening.

Dr Sumanee Watcharasin, a health official from the Department of Disease Control, said on Monday at the daily briefing at the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) that preparations began for the restart of the tourism industry some time ago in consultation with the business sector.

The doctor's update came following Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha's vow to reopen the country last week.

However, she said that can only happen once Covid-19 infections are under control, the public health system is ready, and at least 70% of people living in the provinces that will welcome back tourists have been vaccinated.

She said that adjustments would be made if necessary, as public health remains the top priority, and that a contingency plan is being considered by the CCSA operation centre.

She said that restarting tourism has to be gradual and the Phuket Sandbox, the pilot province for testing safe reopening standards and practices, had provided a valuable learning experience for the whole industry.

Gen Supoj Malaniyom, secretary-general of the National Security Council and head of the Covid-19 operation centre, said public health officials, local authorities and business operators must be ready to comply with the procedures and measures.

"The Covid-19 operation centre will try to get everything covered and make travel convenient and safe. It should be finalised in a day or two," he said.

Gen Supoj declined to say if the state of emergency will be lifted ahead of the Nov 1 reopening, saying it all depends on the measures necessary to contain infections once tourism resumes.

Meanwhile, mobile cabinet meetings are expected to resume next month after a year's gap, said a source at Government House.

The southern province of Krabi has reportedly been pencilled in as the first host, said the source. Krabi is one of the provinces set for Nov 1 tourism reopening.

Gen Prayut will tomorrow inspect the flood situation in Sing Buri province while Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon will visit Kanchanaburi on the same day.

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