Staff: Tokyo: Thai authorities have in the past 24 hours confirmed their intent to reopen the popular holiday destination of Phuket to vaccinated local and foreign tourists, and COVID free Thais on July 1.
The decision came about as the nation’s deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Supattanapong Punmeechaow and a trio of senior ranking officials inspected the area and met with local governor Narong Woonciew.
The Phuket governor said the so-called ‘sandbox scheme‘ was vital to the region’s economy and post-COVID revival and added that he was delighted Phuket had been chosen as the site to lead the sandbox scheme.
Proposals have been made several times in recent months at sites around Thailand to work towards closed off enclaves from which visiting foreign tourists could not leave during their stay, and with local population interaction limited.
A degree of control will still be maintained once the sandbox scheme gets underway with tourists visiting from elsewhere in Thailand requiring either two recorded doses of the Sinovac vaccine or a single dose of AstraZeneca’s vaccine, or having proved negative for the virus with a RT-PCR test at least a week prior to arrival.
Visitors from overseas are likely to be required to undergo a full 14 day period of quarantine despite already being vaccinated the governor said.
In preparation for the opening, the province of Phuket, roughly 850km south of the capital Bangkok, will vaccinate almost half a million locals to help effect a ‘herd-immunity’ in the local populace.
Once reopened to tourism on July 1st, over 600,000 tourists, including 129,000 from overseas are expected to flock to Phuket in the months leading up to September.
Similar schemes are expected to be put in place for three more popular beach destinations in Koh Phangan, Koh Samui, and Koh Tai – all in the Gulf of Thailand – by mid-July.
Image: Deepain Jundal – Unsplash