Phuket Authorities Tighten Covid-19 Controls After Slight Increase in Cases

Phuket authorities have stepped up Covid-19 restrictions as the infections number rise.

While the increase has been slight, tighter controls are essential to keep the situation under control and the Sandbox reopening scheme underway, the governor said.

On Monday, Provincial Governor Narong Wunsiew announced new disease control measures aimed at halting the spread of the most contagious coronavirus Delta variant.

The new restrictions would be in effect from now until August 2, the authority said.

Piyaphong Chuwong, a deputy provincial governor, explained that the measures had been applied as health officials report about a dozen new cases per day.

Initially, province officials had planned to intensify controls only when weekly new cases figures reached 90.

However, authorities decided to implement new controls to prevent outbreaks that could harm the tourist destination’s reopening plans.

The novel measures include the temporary closure of bars, pubs, karaoke shops, and other similar entertainment venues.

Shopping centers and restaurants serving alcoholic beverages were ordered to close at 09:00 p.m.

Moreover, parties and alcohol consumption in public parks, beaches, and other public spaces have been totally banned, said Mr. Narong.

The deputy provincial governor warned that people who violate the measures could face up to two years in prison and a fine of between 20,000 and 100,000 baht.

“While the Covid-19 situation in Phuket is still now under control, these measures are primarily aimed at keeping the Phuket Sandbox program going, improving public safety and preventing the outbreak situation from getting worse,” Mr. Piyaphong.

The Phuket Sandbox was launched on July 1, allowing vaccinated foreign tourists to visit the island without spending long quarantine periods.

Since then, 7,462 visitors have spent an estimated 200 million baht while staying in Phuket.

Without the Sandbox scheme, no new revenue is generated on the island, which was hit hard by the pandemic last year, authorities said.

According to official figures, 16 infections have been detected among visitors under the program. Seven of them tested positive upon arrival, while another traveler developed symptoms three days later.

Another seven tourists were diagnosed with Covid-19 between six days and a week after arriving on the island.

The last traveler tested positive for the coronavirus thirteen days after traveling.