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Phuket exodus halted as officials overwhelmed, close bridge

Phuket exodus halted as officials overwhelmed, close bridge

PHUKET: Hours after opening the bridge for people to leave the island early today (May 1), police ordered the bridge closed to traffic again as officials were overwhelmed by the people wanting to leave Phuket to get home.

By Eakkapop Thongtub

Friday 1 May 2020, 05:19PM

Any people wanting to leave the island by road must wait until at least Sunday (May 3), Phuket Provincial Police Chief Maj Gen Rungrote Thakurapunyasiri said this afternoon.

Officers stopped allowing people to cross the bridge at 2pm. It was not made clear who gave the order to shut down the state-organised exodus.

More than 40,000 people have registered to leave Phuket through a campaign that started as a “survey” for officials to gauge how many people wanted to leave Phuket in order to return to their home provinces and devise a plan to make that possible.

Phuket Vice Governor Supoj Rotreuang Na Nongkhai explained yesterday that any people wanting to leave the island must first obtain written permission from the village chief (Phu Yai Baan) or Subdistrict Chief (Kamnan) for the area where they are are staying in Phuket.

Alternatively, people could register through an online form.

The idea was to allow 2,500 people to leave the island in the morning, and another 2,500 people between midday and 8pm, V/Gov Supoj explained.

Instead, officers at the checkpoint found themselves overwhelmed since before dawn this morning as traffic backed up for kilometres as people arrived early to make sure they would be able to cross the bridge during their “window”.


Maj Gen Rungrote this afternoon said the decision to close the bridge off-island came after the Phuket Governor had discussed the issue with health officials.

The way the process was being conducted today was “not orderly”, he said.

Maj Gen Rungrote did not comment on whether or not the people arriving at the checkpoint had booked their place to leave by using the “QueQ” app, as they were instructed.


People wanting to leave the island will now have to wait until at least Sunday before the bridge to the mainland is re-opened, he said.

The decision spurred much disappointment among those looking forward to going home, as many of them no longer have work in Phuket, and hence no form of income to support themselves while on the island.

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Dave_C | 02 May 2020 - 20:46:48

You know the saying "couldn't organize a ..........."

Offshore Migration | 02 May 2020 - 16:44:09

why not open the airport?

CaptainJack69 | 02 May 2020 - 12:26:26

Calm down. Look they're trying to make sure no one's showing symptoms (take temps. easy enough) and keep a record of who's going where (MUCH harder) to be able to trace any possible transmission. It's not easy BUT that's what the Q app is for, just send everyone straight back if they don't use it (99% of people have smart phones now)

DeKaaskopp | 02 May 2020 - 12:08:45

"Pray for Phuket when a real "outide"disaster happens"   What ???

Kurt | 02 May 2020 - 12:01:23

After turning down/blocking thousands to depart Phuket, where are they now staying 2 nights till Sunday as they have no own rooms any longer? Blocking up in friends rooms? Making social distance impossible? In areas were people have no running tapwater? Looks like Authorities do everything they can to keep Covid19 among us. And Sunday departure becomes a drama again. 

Kurt | 02 May 2020 - 10:31:01

With not just guiding an easy exodus flow of Thai people leaving Phuket, instead 'organising' a chaotic idiot bureautic 'holding up' Opera making Government initiate another  man made Covid-19 wave coming. Pray for Phuket when a real 'outide' disaster  happens.

CaptainJack69 | 01 May 2020 - 20:26:48

There's a lot of p*ssed off people out there right now. We're in a pressure cooker and the release valve isn't working. Tik tok...

Christy Sweet | 01 May 2020 - 19:09:38

GGAFM Do they have a manual on how to be as disorganized, confounding and as  outright  difficult as possible ? No? Well they sure could write it. 

Paddy | 01 May 2020 - 19:09:11

This is not going to end well for the authorities.

Kurt | 01 May 2020 - 17:55:27

..if one was not infected than great chance he will be during that "survey". Already many km's cars at bridge at 4 AM. When they closed the bridge at 2 PM, many cars had to turn around and people had to return their Phuket address again. What a chaos, what a farce! Open that bridge, just take temp, and wave them through. No 'windows', first come, first out. Government chaos b...

Grasshopper | 01 May 2020 - 17:44:11

Thousands unable to leave the island this afternoon, and now nowhere to go having returned the keys of their rented accommodation.    Local government ineptitude in crisis management has turned a problem situation into a disaster.   Can you imagine how they would cope should a natural disaster such as a tsunami occur.   Shudder to think.

Kurt | 01 May 2020 - 17:41:41

Is there really nothing they can organise in a orderly way? Skip campaign for "Survey" only. Seeing all the tables with paper tigers, holding up the 'leavers'. OMG. Open the bridge, take their temperature and let them go. Why 'windows', why permission of a village head needed to go home? Enormous crowds without social distances. If one was not infected than he will be dur...


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