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More than 20k people have left Phuket, police app confirms

More than 20k people have left Phuket, police app confirms

PHUKET: More than 20,000 people have now left Phuket due to the economic impact of the COVID-19 restrictions, a new app launched by the Phuket Provincial Police has revealed.

COVID-19Coronavirushealthtransport
By The Phuket News

Saturday 16 May 2020, 06:17PM


Phuket Governor Phakaphong Tavipatana today (May 16) confirmed that his request to re-open the bridges onto and off the island has been denied, and that all ports in the province are to remain closed until further notice.

That news followed Phuket International Airport yesterday being ordered to remain closed to all non-essential flights also until further notice.

However, Governor Phakaphong was not disheartened by the decision from Bangkok to keep Phuket under lockdown.

“The lockdown of three transportation channels [air, road and sea] has not been lifted, but we are ready to lift the lockdown in Phuket when we receive the new order to lift the lockdown.” he said after the daily meeting of the Phuket Communicable Disease Committee today.

Phuket Provincial Police broke the news first that access across the bridges remained closed to all non-essential traffic with a post on their official Facebook page late last night.

The post explained that all authorised traffic, including drivers delivering essential goods, products, medical equipment and supplies, authorised government officers, construction materials (but now only for government projects) and any other people deemed “necessary” by officers at the checkpoint would continue to be granted passage onto and off the island as usual under the original lockdown order.

They also posted an advisory that all people “wanting to enter-exit Phuket” must register through the new “PhuketSmartCheck-in” app, which is available only for mobile phones.  

THE NUMBERS

At last report, on May 5, Governor Phakaphong revealed that “about 50,000” people had registered to leave Phuket due to economic hardship brought on by unemployment due to the “COVID situation”.

Since then there have been no official statements as to how many people have actually left the island. All police and officials asked by The Phuket News for more than a week have refused to answer the question. That silence comes as fear spread throughout the country that people returning home from Phuket will be carrying the virus with them.

Yet, according to the PhuketSmartCheck-in app, as of today the total number of people who departed Phuket from May 3-15 was 20,731.

The app also reveals that in total 41,462 people have registered through the app to leave Phuket.

It is not clear whether the total number of people registered to leave Phuket includes those who registered before the latest app was launched following rush to leave the island forced police to close the bridge within hours of opening on May 1.

It is also not clear if the number given for people leaving the island from May 3-5 includes those who departed before the Phuket Provincial Police commandeered the queueing process to make sure the departure checks and process were “more orderly”.

Highlighting how “simple” the process was to register to enter of leave Phuket, the Phuket Provincial Police have released a flowchart to explain the process.

COMING TO PHUKET

The PhuketSmartCheck-in app also reveals that as of today (May 16) the number of people registered as living in Phuket allowed back onto the island from May 3 to May 15 totalled 14,245.

In total, 28,490 people have registered their intent to come back to Phuket, the app notes.

The only public admission that it was possible for people to enter Phuket came earlier this week with Phuket Provincial Police posting notices urging people to use the PhuketSmartCheck-in app in order to “enter-exit Phuket”.

UWC Thailand

Questions from The Phuket News as to what conditions must be fulfilled in order for people to be approved entry to Phuket have been ignored.

National headlines and repeated statements by Phuket officials have heaped onto people the message that any persons leaving Phuket must observe a 14-day quarantine on reaching their destination – a mandatory requirement that has always very clearly communicated since the option to leave the island was announced..

Deputy Prime Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, who also serves as the Public health Minister, earlier today repeated that this must be observed in his press conference about the COVID situation in the country.

“We never know where the virus is coming from,” he said today.

Meanwhile, there has not been a single statement clarifying whether any people being granted entry to Phuket must observe a 14-day quarantine before being allowed onto the island.

The new PhuketSmartCheck-in app makes it clear that people leaving Phuket must first observe a 14-day quarantine and obtain a ”Fit to Travel” permit issued by health authorities, but makes no mention of any quarantine period for people coming to Phuket.

The Phuket Provincial Police last night revealed that in addition to those returning to their home provinces due to the impact of COVID-19, regular people will be granted passage for special circumstances, such as returning to work in Phuket, any medical emergencies or funerals for family members or other urgent business to attend to in Phuket.

“Applicants must bring evidence to present to officers at the checkpoint,” the post advised.

“Whether or not people have been approved to enter or leave Phuket should be available online by checking the app the next day,” it said.

The police also stressed in the post, “Register first - make passage faster, simpler, more convenient” – a request that throws into doubt whether people need to register online first at all in order to be granted passage onto or off the island.

The Phuket Provincial Police today did make it clear that only people with “urgent” matters to address will be allowed onto the island. Arrivals will be subjected to “strict inspection”, they warned.

“If there is no need [to enter Phuket], they will not be allowed to travel into the area,” the police noted in a post late this afternoon.

INCOME IMPACT

For more than a week all officials and police have refused to answer any questions about the Phuket Provincial Police asking people through their online registration forms to confirm their incomes before the COVID-19 outbreak and their income at the time they were registering to leave the island.

The initial online form used by the Phuket Provincial Police asked people to enter their incomes both before and after the outbreak began. The new PhuketSmartCheck-in app still continues to ask people their income before the outbreak, but does not ask about their income after.

After a week of badgering by The Phuket News, Phuket Provincial Police Commander Maj Gen Rungrote was still not available to answer questions, but the The Phuket News finally managed to contact Lt Col Wasuthep Jai-in, one of the administrators and coordinator of information with the Phuket Provincial Police online form to register to leave Phuket.

“That information will be handed over to provincial officials to use in making policy decisions,” was all he would say, and declined to answer any further questions.

No details of the extent of the impact of COVID19 on people’s incomes has been recognised or been made available by provincial officials.

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Dave_C | 18 May 2020 - 10:37:52

How can you get a medical clearance if you are required to self quarantine for 14 days before you leave ?

Dave_C | 18 May 2020 - 10:32:26

From the statements above you need to observe a 14 day quarantine before you leave and a 14 day quarantine after you leave. These requirements have never clearly been communicated and are not  in the new app as stated above and VietjetAir told me 3 days ago that a medical clearance was not required. There is total confusion really ????

keno16 | 18 May 2020 - 09:42:11

I think 

Christy Sweet | 17 May 2020 - 20:50:38

Arguing the emergency was averted, by using the averted emergency as basis, is intellectual dishonesty. 

Edward Reumann | 17 May 2020 - 19:43:56

Interesting, except for one thing.in the opposite lane was almost as many people entering the island. Same regulations for those entering?  Obviously, those trapped on the island have concerns for family off the island.  6500 people is noticeable on the island's roads.  Easing of restrictions, jobs opening back up will ramp up population again.

Little Tommy Tucker | 17 May 2020 - 12:39:10

Capt, some might argue it is an exercise to see how tightly officials can squeeze people until their pips squeak. 

Kurt | 17 May 2020 - 11:47:35

Funny how Officials forward-backward forward with numbers of people leaving Phuket. Non structural, drowning in to many paperwork. And, when questions of PN are not answered or ignored by Officials, it just means they have no clue, or even not thought about the subjects yet. Always to much doing before thinking. Same with airport on 14th opening approved, on 15th opening cancelled.

Rorri_2 | 17 May 2020 - 10:51:18

CaptainJack69, you forget one importing thing.. it's "reported" deaths/cases.. but if you want to risk health/life on Thai stats... go for it.

LALALA | 17 May 2020 - 09:15:20

CaptainJack69... it is about control of a totalitarian regime abusing power.

Christy Sweet | 17 May 2020 - 08:19:33

Too much assumption  everyone has a working internet phone- I don't. What a mess, thank you TPN for trying to sort out this epitome of Thai bureaucratic hassles 

Jor12 | 17 May 2020 - 06:12:34

Unless you have been living under rock, covid19 virus is a highly virulent virus that has a tendency to kill people - 310K worldwide so far since January. 1 infection tends to spread to 12 others. Compound that without lockdowns and social distancing, would tend to deplete societies. But sure, the last vocal bloke who thought it was a lot of fuss about nothing died. 

Edward Reumann | 17 May 2020 - 06:11:58

Makes no sense that you are require a 14 day quarantine for those leaving Phuket,  yet have no requirements for those entering Phuket. You have no control of the medical standards fir those entering.

CaptainJack69 | 16 May 2020 - 20:40:12

In 4-1/2 months Phuket has only had 3 deaths from COVID. We've had just 224 confirmed cases in total with no new ones at all in the last 6 days. That's out of a best guess real population of 600,000 people. What is all the fuss about?

Little Tommy Tucker | 16 May 2020 - 19:32:17

I was being sarcastic as to the owner jumping up and down with joy. Of course 'officials' have no such financial worries, as they are no doubt still on full salaries!

Little Tommy Tucker | 16 May 2020 - 19:30:28

Well, considering there is a dearth of tourists on the island it would be reasonable to assume that incomes for many have been reduced to zero, although, to be fair, that isn't important to 'officials'. I am a regular at a recently opened restaurant in Chalong. The owner is jumping up and down with joy. Easy to understand why. He hasn't got enough customers to be making a living. 

 

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