Phuket to Waive Quarantine For Vaccinated Tourists From July
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Thailand has finalized its plan to reopen Phuket on July 1, the so-called Phuket Sandbox, which will allow fully vaccinated tourists from countries such as Germany, the U.K. and U.S. to visit the island without having to quarantine.
It’s the first time in more than a year that people from abroad would be able to travel to Thailand’s most-famous resort-destination without being subjected to 14 days of hotel isolation, provided they are inoculated against Covid-19 and aren’t coming from what the government deemed “high-risk” nations.
Tourism-reliant Thailand is gearing up for a nationwide reopening as early as October to revive its economy, and is using Phuket as a pilot project while the rest of the country accelerates inoculations. The vaccination rate for Phuket residents is currently about 60%, compared to only about 5% nationwide; the government’s goal is 70% on the island before the reopening.
Thailand will focus its marketing efforts for the Phuket reopening to bring in tourists from countries including Denmark, France, Germany, Israel, Norway, Spain, the United Arab Emirates, U.K. and U.S., Tourism Authority of Thailand Governor Yuthasak Supasorn said on Friday following the Covid-19 task force’s approval of the plan. Travelers from China, Thailand’s biggest source of visitors and tourism revenue pre-pandemic, are expected to arrive in the final quarter, he said.
There were few visitors to Thailand last year, and a special visa program initiated ahead of the peak season over the Northern Hemisphere winter did little to boost numbers. In the year before the pandemic, international arrivals averaged more than 3 million per month and the tourism industry contributed about a fifth of gross domestic product.
The Phuket Sandbox is expected to get the Cabinet’s rubber stamp on Tuesday, with Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha planning a visit next week. Prayuth said this week that Thailand “must be ready to live with some risk” and “let people go back to being able to earn a living.”
Key details for the plan:
- Eligible visitors for the quarantine waiver include those who have been fully vaccinated and are traveling from Thailand’s lists of low- and medium-risk countries, which will be determined by the Health Ministry
- Foreign tourists can stay on the island for any length of time that their visa permits before departing
- But they must stay on the island for at least 14 days before traveling to other regions in Thailand
- The reopening will be canceled or halted if any of the following happens:
- New infections in Phuket reach 90 cases per week; the island reported 13 cases during June 11-17
- Infections are found in all three districts and more than six sub-districts on the island
- More than three clusters of infections are detected
- Hospitalization rate reaches 80% of the island’s capacity
- New variants spread to an uncontrollable level
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