Plans To Reopen Phuket Are Still Underway Despite COVID-19 Upsurge

Despite the recent increase in cases and worrying numbers the country has logged, Thailand has confirmed that its plan to reopen Phuket in July is still underway.

Most of the countries around the world were hard hit by the health crisis, especially last year. However, it seems that the effect of the pandemic has diminished during 2021.

The unprecedented lockdowns and travel restrictions of 2020 turned into vaccination campaigns and restriction relief this year.

But Thailand has been the other way around, and its people are still far on the road to normality. The country received worldwide recognition for its successful efforts to stop the spread of the virus after the pandemic began.

With harsh lockdown and decisive action, the Thai government saw the kingdom posting low numbers, recording fewer than a thousand cases a day throughout 2020.

However, 2021 has been much more difficult for the nation, as the third wave of COVID-19 led it to record a new high of 9,635 infections in one day last week. Currently, Thailand has a rolling 7-day average of 3,684 cases.

Vacation trips, a slow rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, and imported cases from neighboring countries resulting from porous borders are part of the issues behind the high numbers.

But the government is determined not to let the coronavirus resurgence affect its reopening plans. Phuket was set to open to vaccinated international travelers without the need to quarantine upon arrival.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) anticipates 129,000 international arrivals in the scheme’s first three months, as waiving a 14-day quarantine seems to be an attractive incentive.

Phuket is the largest island and one of the most visited places in the country, so it relies heavily on tourism. As a result, it was one of the first elections to reopen to tourists in a bid to recover Thailand’s economy.

The island’s vaccination program is ongoing, and 100,000 residents have received both doses of a COVID-19 jab.

However, to reach herd immunity levels before July 1, the island’s health officials must vaccinate another 210,000 residents in the next six weeks. Moreover, tourists must comply with some measures to enter, such as flying directly to the island and showing vaccination certificates.