Thailand approves Phuket reopening for vaccinated int’l visitors from July


BANGKOK, June 22 (Xinhua) — Thailand’s cabinet on Tuesday approved a plan to allow quarantine-free travel to the country’s resort destination Phuket from July 1, government spokesperson Anucha Burapachaisri said.

The plan, known as the “Phuket Sandbox,” will allow international visitors to enter and travel freely on the island without quarantine, provided they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and are from what the government deemed low- or medium-risk places.

Under the plan, eligible visitors can stay in Phuket for any length of time that their visa permits before leaving Thailand, but they must stay on the island for 14 nights if they want to head elsewhere in the country, according to details released by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).

They must be vaccinated with vaccines approved by Thailand or the World Health Organization at least 14 days before departure. Other conditions include a COVID-19 health insurance policy with a minimum coverage of 100,000 U.S. dollars and certificate of negative COVID-19 RT-PCR test result issued within 72 hours of arrival, according to the TAT.

The country will cancel the reopening in worst-case scenarios, including that new infections in Phuket reach 90 cases per week, three districts or more than six villages have local transmissions, or healthcare facilities in use exceed 80 percent of capacity on the island, Taweesin Visanuyothin, spokesperson of the Center for the COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA), said at Tuesday’s daily briefing.

The Phuket reopening plan is considered as a pilot program as Thailand aims to reopen to vaccinated foreign visitors as early as October to revive its tourism-reliant economy.

On Tuesday, the country confirmed 4,059 new COVID-19 cases, raising its total case tally to 225,365. Death toll from the viral disease increased by 35 to 1,693, according to the CCSA data.