Authorities said their plan to reopen the country comes with conditions.
One important requirement is that only provinces with at least 70% of their population would be authorized to fully reopen, according to a Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) meeting. Moreover, the Phuket Sandbox plan could be suspended a few days before starting if cases increase to 90 per week.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said Thailand would reopen to international visitors and restore business operations within 120 days.
However, the CCSA said on Friday that the goal of reopening in mid-October could not be achieved nationwide. Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said: “We learned from our first failed attempt to reopen Phuket to tourists last year that such a plan should have mutual agreement from the local community. The provincial government should make the evaluation on whether the province is ready to open to international tourists.”
He explained that all provinces must follow Phuket Sandbox’s parameters, meaning that they must have at least 70% of their population vaccinated.
Besides, each province must vaccinate 100% of service sector workers and establish an administration center to reopen following the Tourism and Sports Ministry and Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) strict procedures. On Friday, authorities also approved opening routes on three islands, Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, and Koh Tao, from July 15.
However, tourists who want to visit the islands must comply with additional restrictions such as staying in alternative locally quarantined hotels and spending the first three days at their facilities.
According to TAT Governor Yuthasak Supasorn, the ban against Thais and people with permanent residence in Thailand has also been removed from Phuket’s reopening plan. Also, Thai travelers who traveled abroad to get vaccinated must get a shot at least 14 days before arriving on the island.
Moreover, he said tourists must travel from low to medium risk countries – the official list of countries will be updated periodically every two weeks.