That was the message delivered at a meeting of high-ranking Phuket officials and the majority of consuls and foreign government representatives on the island yesterday (Apr 27).
Leading the meeting, held at Phuket Provincial Hall, was Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew, joined by all three Phuket Vice Governors, Pichet Panapong, Piyapong Choowong and Vikrom Jakthee.
The meeting was tabled as being held “to discuss ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19 for foreign tourists living in Phuket.”
Present to receive the message were Consul-Generals, Honorary Consuls and other representatives from 14 countries: Australia, United Kingdom, Russia, France, the Netherlands, Norway, Kazakhstan, Luxembourg, Austria, South Korea, Switzerland, Chile, Mexico and Nepal.
According to a report by the Phuket office of the Public Relations Department (PR Phuket), the consuls were informed of the rules and regulations now in effect to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as well as the economic situation in Phuket in order for the consuls to acknowledge and use the information to share publicly.
“At this meeting, the participants were given an opportunity to express their opinions and make recommendations in the prevention and control of the epidemic of COVID-19 as well,” said the report.
“The Phuket Immigration Office presented information for cooperation from the Consul-General and Honorary Consuls. Guidelines for the prevention and control of the epidemic of COVID-19 have been published,” the report added.
“However, if the investigation of the disease by the Phuket Provincial Public Health Office finds that you (foreigners) who are at high risk, or have tested positive for COVID-19, you (foreigners) must be socially responsible by preparing for treatment in strict accordance with the place set by the Public Health Office, which is this standard. The same standard as Thai citizens living in Phuket Province,” the report noted.
“If you (foreigners) do not comply, there will be legal penalties and affect your consideration for permission to stay in the Kingdom,” the report stated.
The report did not include any statements by the consuls on the message.
After hearing the government’s planned timeline for COVID vaccination, the Honorary Consul of the United Kingdom asked when foreigners would be included in the vaccination progamme timeline.
Matthew Barclay, Australian Consul-General to Phuket, requested that the Phuket Provincial Government quickly send information of the Phuket regulations to the Consulate so that the Consulate can manage its outreach information to its tourists and act accordingly.
The Honorary Consul of Norway asked provincial officials to prepare information published on a central website for the convenience and speed of extraction of information to be used in public relations.
And the Dutch honorary consul, Seven Smulders, asked the provincial authorities to update the progress of Phuket’s COVID situation in English-language media, specifically suggesting Richard Barrow and The Phuket News.
The meeting noted that there are currently approximately 11,000 foreigners living in Phuket.
“As a result of this meeting, Phuket Province will use [the information learned] to improve working guidelines to provide care for foreign tourists in the Phuket area to be effective with the ultimate goal of expats to be taken care of and safe from COVID-19,” the report concluded.
Of note, for the past week Phuket Immigration has been posting a notice telling foreigners in Phuket to strictly follow COVID prevention measures.
However, no explanation has been provided as to what inspired the Phuket Immigration Office to start heavily emphasising the need for people to follow COVID prevention measures.
Yesterday was the first time the Phuket Immigration Office delivered a warning to foreigners in Phuket that they may have their stay in the country annulled if they are caught not following the COVID prevention measures.