The plan to reopen Bangkok to international tourists from 15 October is being questioned, as to whether the city is actually ready. The government’s COVID-19 task force said on Saturday that any reopening plan needs to be evaluated by the Ministry of Public Health first.
The Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration’s (CCSA) Assistant Spokesperson Dr Apisamai Srirangsan, has addressed plans for certain provinces including Bangkok to reopen to international tourists in October, saying that all such plans are yet to receive final approval from the CCSA.
To revive the country’s tourism sector, which was one of the country’s most important economic drivers pre-pandemic, some tourism provinces plan to open some of their districts to vaccinated international tourists, who would not be subject to hotel quarantine during their visit.
This particular arrangement has already been piloted in the Phuket Sandbox and Samui Plus campaigns, where fully vaccinated international visitors fly into these areas and stay in specific accommodation without serving quarantine. Tourists in these campaigns are however not allowed to travel outside the dedicated area, until a set number of days have passed.
A similar plan was announced recently to allow Bangkok to reopen to international visitors in an arrangement similar to the Sandbox protocols, from 15th October. The plan was however dismissed by City Hall, which says the city isn’t ready, citing the limited rate of vaccination uptake.
Dr Apisamai said any plans to open certain areas to international tourists will need to be evaluated by the Ministry of Public Health, with outbreak control and response measures carefully implemented.
She said area surveys must be conducted before submitting such plans to the CCSA for approval, adding that the 14-day quarantine requirement is still in effect.
For each reopening proposal, the Ministry of Public Health will need to assess preparedness and measures already in place in the area, including protocols for new cases and clusters.
The CCSA now aims to raise the rate of vaccination uptake to 50% of Thailand’s population by the end of October, with 70% of the vulnerable population vaccinated by that time. Areas that are planning to receive international tourists should have at least 80% of residents vaccinated.
There are now eight provinces in Thailand where more than half the local population has already received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, namely Bangkok, Pathum Thani, Samut Sakhon, Samut Prakan, Chachoengsao, Chonburi (Pattaya City), Phuket, and Phang Nga. Meanwhile, five provinces have reported more than 70% of their vulnerable population is now vaccinated, namely Bangkok, Pathum Thani, Phuket, Ranong, and Phang Nga. (NNT)