Thailand to open Phuket for tourists without quarantine requirement

Bangkok, Jun 22 (EFE).- Thai authorities on Tuesday announced that the popular island of Phuket would be opened for tourists vaccinated against Covid-19, without mandatory quarantine, from Jul. 1 in a measure aimed at boosting the struggling tourism sector.

The spokesperson of the prime minister’s office, Anucha Burapachaisiri, said in a press conference that if reopening Phuket, situated in the Andaman Sea, produced favorable results, the model would be replicated on other islands.

Currently, tourists arriving in Thailand have to observe a 14-day quarantine in hotels or special government centers which they cannot leave at any time until the period is over and they have tested negative for the new coronavirus.

The authorities are planning to next withdraw the quarantine requirement for the islands of Tao, Samui and Phangan, situated in the Surat Thani province in the Gulf of Thailand, from Jul. 15.

However, the partial reopening can be canceled if infection begin to rise and the availability of intensive care beds in the islands’ hospitals is affected.

The government is planning to remove mandatory quarantine for vaccinated travelers for the entire country from October, aiming to rescue the tourist sectors, which accounted for 12-20 percent of Thailand’s GDP before being paralyzed by the pandemic.

Having shut down its borders and enforced other measures early on, Thailand remained relatively unaffected by the pandemic until the recent surge that began in March and has led to cases going past 225,,000, with nearly 1,700 deaths registered so far.

So far vaccination has progressed at a slow rate, with just around 2.22 million people or 3.36 percent of the population having been fully vaccinated. Around 5.67 million residents have received at least one vaccine dose.

Thailand’s vaccine strategy largely depends on Chinese lab Sinovac and British-Swedish AstraZeneca, which is set to locally produce millions of vaccine doses to be supplied both domestically and in other countries of the region, although supply has been hit by delays in recent weeks.

Other countries of the region are also planning to implement similar schemes for their tourist islands: the Indonesian tourism ministry on Tuesday announced that the island of Bali would be soon opened for vaccinated tourists, while Vietnam is considering inoculating all residents of the Phu Quoc island in order to receive vaccinated travelers without mandatory quarantine. EFE

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