Gov confident it can meet 120 day reopening goal

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Chinese tourists pose on a beach at an island in Phang-Nga province, Thailand January 30, 2020. REUTERS/Juarawee Kittisilpa

BANGKOK (NNT) – Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Energy Supattanapong Punmeechaow has clarified the government’s intention of reopening the entire nation to foreigners within 120 days, saying the countdown will start on July 1, placing its deadline at the end of October this year.

Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha detailed in a statement that the government has established contact with six COVID-19 vaccine producers, with AstraZeneca and Sinovac already making deliveries and Pfizer, Johnson and Johnson, Moderna and Sinopharm already at the signing and reservation phases. Overall, the country is to receive 105.5 million doses, exceeding an initial target of 100 million, which will allow for the vaccination of 50 million people or 70 percent of the population.

The PM outlined that to meet the government’s timeline, 10 million doses have to be administered on a monthly basis, acknowledging that sufficient vaccine is not available for the month of June. He elaborated that the target for the month was six million doses but so far only 1.8 million have arrived.

Deputy Minister of Public Health Satit Pitutecha, fielding questions from Seri Ruam Thai Party MPs on behalf of the PM in Parliament, claimed today that Thailand has an agreement with AstraZeneca for 61 million doses of its vaccine and was set to receive 6 million of the doses in June. At present, 1 million doses are bound for the country next week, while the total received so far is 4 million doses. From July to November this year, the nation is to receive a further 10 million doses every month before a final delivery of 5 million doses in December. He expressed confidence the deliveries will proceed as planned.

The government is also looking to the approaching Phuket Tourism Sandbox program to bolster confidence in its reopening plans. The Sandbox scheme is to be launched on July 1, and Phuket is stepping up efforts to achieve a target of 70 percent of its population vaccinated by that date. Hotels, tourism businesses and restaurants are giving full support to the plan, securing SHA and SHA+ certification by enhancing hygiene measures, and vaccinating over 70 percent of their staff. So far, 300 hotels have received SHA+.

Overall, public cooperation with the program has been forthcoming with all sides hoping the reintroduction of tourists will bolster the local economy.

With a clear timeline for vaccinations, stringent control of preventative measures and good cooperation, the government is confident it will make good on its plan to reopen the entire nation in 120 days under the New Normal.

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