Phuket will become the first Thai destination to lift quarantine requirements, as part of a new scheme known as the “Phuket Sandbox.” From 1 July 2021, travellers who have been vaccinated for Covid-19 will be able to enter the island and travel freely, without the need for quarantine. The scheme is a pilot project, leading the way in Thailand’s ongoing tourism revival. Once Phuket is up and running, other regions are expected to follow.
The Phuket Sandbox idea has been approved by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, in his capacity as CESA chairman. Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) are currently working on its implementation together with Phuket’s governor and the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration. Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn has said that tourists who can provide both certificates of inoculation against Covid-19 and negative test results, can fly into Phuket and move around freely without having to quarantine. Similar schemes are being set up in destinations such as Pattaya, Chiang Mai, Krabi, Phang Nga and Surat Thani, with local vaccination programmes being accelerated in each destination.
According to the latest statement from TAT, officials plan to lift nationwide quarantine restrictions in stages, with Phuket leading the way. “Phuket will be the pilot destination that will lift quarantine requirements from 1 July onwards, while other destinations will still require a seven-day quarantine,” confirmed Yuthasak Supasorn, who is TAT Governor, following a CESA meeting chaired by the Prime Minister on 26 March. “Starting from the fourth quarter of this year, quarantine is expected to be lifted entirely in all areas,” he added.
Phuket reopened to foreign arrivals from 1 April 2021. In order to be granted entry to Phuket under the current regulations, all international arrivals must present evidence they have received two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine. Other requirements include results from a RT-PCR test, issued no longer than 72 hours before departure; a Certificate of Entry (COE) issued by the Embassy; a valid visa or re-entry permit; and a health insurance policy. In addition to screening and tests upon arrival, visitors will be required to download a track and trace app.
Officials in Phuket are working to complete their mass vaccination programme and achieve herd immunity in time for the full lifting of quarantine restrictions in July. The first round of vaccinations beginning on 15 April, followed by the second from 15 May. In order for the sandbox plan to begin, 70% of the island must be inoculated; an operation involving the procurement and distribution of around 925,000 vaccinations between now and July. The island is on course to have immunised around 80% of islanders by then. With vaccinations proceeding both at home and abroad, Thailand’s tourism sector is looking forward to a busy summer.