'Endemic sandbox' proposed for islands, nightspots would reopen

'Endemic sandbox' proposed for islands, nightspots would reopen

Tourists enjoy the walking street of Lad Yai market in Phuket's old town zone on May 1. (Photo: Achadthaya Chuenniran)
Tourists enjoy the walking street of Lad Yai market in Phuket's old town zone on May 1. (Photo: Achadthaya Chuenniran)

The Public Health Ministry will propose declaring Covid-19 endemic on three major tourist islands - Koh Samui in Surat Thani province, Koh Chang in Trat and Phuket - and the reopening of night entertainment venues there.

Health permanent secretary Kiattiphum Wongrajit said on Thursday  the ministry would seek approval from the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) for its "endemic sandbox" initiative, a first step towards declaring Covid-19 an endemic disease nationwide.

Criteria for the endemic sandbox included declining infections, readiness of medical services and vaccination levels of people in those areas, he said.

"We selected islands that are the country's top tourist destinations first because their areas are limited and diseases can be easily controlled there," Dr Kiattiphum said.

He expected the implementation of the endemic sandbox initiative would lead to the government's declaration of Covid-19 as an endemic disease in July.

In the endemic sandboxes, nightspots would be able reopen under some restrictions, he said. Customers would have to be fully vaccinated. It would be recommended that people with underlying illnesses avoid these places.

Dr Kiattiphum said wearing of face masks would remain a requirement under the endemic status of Covid-19.

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