Surat Thani to manage foreign traveller virus risk

Fishermen are the only people on Lamai Beach on Koh Samui, Surat Thani province on July 3, 2021. (Photo: Dave Kendall)

Surat Thani has in place "Samui Plus'' model measures to help curb the risk of any possible spread of the coronavirus among foreign travellers wanting to visit the province from Thursday onwards.

As Surat Thani relies heavily on tourism, the cabinet has granted permission to open Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, and Koh Tao to foreign visitors as part of the Samui Plus model. They will be able to visit the other two islands and explore Koh Samui after a week's stay within the grounds of a Samui hotel.

The province's governor, Witchawut Jinto, issued orders for foreign travellers to follow anti-Covid-19 measures before and during their stay.

Mr Witchawut said visitors must avoid areas where there is a high risk of infection for at least 14 days before arrival in Surat Thani. Travellers should also be from a country approved by the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration, he said.

He went on to say that foreign visitors must also be registered with the Thai government and have legal documentation for entry. They likewise need to have tested negative for Covid-19 within 72 hours before travelling to the province and they are required to be screened by their airline for respiratory symptoms and high temperatures prior to their flight. Health insurance covering more than US$100,000 in medical costs is also a requirement.

Currently, only direct flights from other countries to Samui and domestic transfer flights from abroad stopping in Bangkok and then on to Samui are permitted, he said. The governor also stated that as the virus may not be detected in the first 7 days during isolation measures, visitors are not allowed to leave their hotels on Samui or consume alcoholic beverages.

Then on days 8-14, visitors are allowed to travel around Koh Samui, to Koh Phangan and Koh Tao, using only designated boats to Na Phra Lan Pier in Koh Samui, Thong Sala Pier in Koh Phangan, and Ban Mae Haad Pier in Koh Tao, he said.