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Thailand finalized its plan to reopen Phuket on July 1, the so-called Phuket Sandbox, which will allow fully vaccinated tourists to visit the island without having to self-quarantine.
This is the first time in more than a year that foreign visitors could travel to Thailand’s most famous resort town without being subjected to 14 days of hotel isolation, provided they are vaccinated against Covid-19 and do not come from what the government deemed the nations “at high risk”.
Thailand, dependent on tourism, is preparing for a nationwide reopening in October forrevive its economy and uses Phuket as apilot project while the rest of the country speeds up vaccinations. The vaccination rate for residents of Phuket is currently around 60%, compared to only around 5% nationally; the government’s target is 70% on the island before the reopening.
There were few visitors to Thailand last year, and a special visa program was launched ahead of the peak season during the northern hemisphere winter.does little to increase the numbers. In the year before the pandemic, international arrivals averaged over 3 million per month, and the tourism industry contributed about a fifth of gross domestic product.
The Phuket Sandbox is expected to receive Cabinet approval on Tuesday, with Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha planning a visit next week. Prayuth said this week that Thailand “has to be prepared to live with some risk” and “let people start making a living again.”
Key details of the plan:
- Visitors eligible for the quarantine waiver include those who have been fully vaccinated and are traveling from Thailand’s low- and medium-risk country lists, which will be determined by the Ministry of Health.
- Foreign tourists can stay on the island for as long as their visa allows before leaving
- But they must stay on the island for at least 14 days before traveling to other parts of Thailand.
- The reopening will be canceled or interrupted if any of the following occurs:
- New infections in Phuket are reaching 90 cases per week; the island reported 13 cases from June 11 to 17
- Infections are found in all three districts and over six sub-districts of the island
- More than three clusters of infections have been detected
- Hospitalization rate reaches 80% of the island’s capacity
- New variants have spread to an uncontrollable level