The news follows reports circulating online that four French “VIPs” were allowed to spend a 14-day holiday in Phuket – despite no foreigners currently being allowed to enter the country via Phuket.
Governor Narong confirmed the news while reviewing a “rehearsal” of the processes to allow fororeign tourists to be allowed into the country at Phuket International Airport yesterday (Sept 8).
"Four French foreigners were approved by the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration [CCSA], the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand to arrive at Phuket International Airport,” Governor Narong said.
“The four French nationals arrived by private jet, then the CCSA designated the four foreigners as a trial group and considered them as a way to test the system [for allowing foreigners into the country,” he added.
"They went through all the correct procedures and stayed 14 days in quarantine at an ALSQ hotel which was tested in accordance with established systems and measures,” he added.
"After that they flew to Cambodia, without any spread of COVID-19 in Phuket,” he said.
Governor Narong declined to explain what reasons were given for allowing the four French nationals special permission to land in Phuket and spend 14 days on the island while the blanket ban on all foreigners arriving in thailand via Phuket remains in place – as ordered by the CCSA in Bangkok.
“Testing the system for bringing foreigners into Phuket is necessary, we must slowly open the door to receive foreigners,” Governor Narong said.
"Now our door is suddenly closed,” he added.
“Opening the door wide to accepting foreigners coming in without testing the system is impossible. We followed all the CCSA procedures strictly every step of the way, ” he said.
Governor Narong redirected the issue towards the critical need of allowing foreigners to come to Phuket to help end the financial suffering on the island.
“The efforts to bring foreigners into Phuket is for the benefit of the nation and for Phuket province. Phuket is getting ‘sick’ now, and the revenue generated from the tourism industry, about B400 billion a year, has all disappeared,” he said.
“If we don’t do anything and let it continue like this for the next four to five months, or even a year, what will happen to Phuket? How will the people of Phuket survive? Therefore economic recovery is important, as well as taking care of the health of the Phuket people," he concluded.