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Phuket reopening delayed

THAILAND: The government’s plan to reopen the resort island of Phuket as a model to welcome back foreign visitors has hit a snag after the country last week saw the first case of local COVID-19 infection in more than three months.

By Bangkok Post

Sunday 6 September 2020, 10:51AM

Yuthasak: Fears second wave. Photo: Bangkok Post

Yuthasak: Fears second wave. Photo: Bangkok Post

Yuthasak Supasorn, governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), said the launch of the so-called “Phuket model” scheduled for next month as part of efforts to revive the local economy, is likely to be pushed back.

He said TAT officials are visiting Phuket this long weekend to discuss disease control measures with business operators, adding the proposed model to bring back foreign tourists may have to be adjusted if the country faces a second wave of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Under the Phuket model, floated by the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, about 200 visitors from Australia and New Zealand will be allowed in. However, they must first test negative for the virus in their country of origin and stay in quarantine for 14 days at designated places in Phuket.

The visitors can travel throughout the province if they test negative for COVID-19. But if they want to visit other provinces, they will have to stay in quarantine in their respective provinces for another seven days.

Mr Yuthasak also said domestic travel during the four-day weekend was less than robust with hotel occupancy recorded at 30% and estimated spending at around B8.8 billion. However, he said tourism activities have picked up since July.

As a result, the TAT plans to increase offers under the government’s Rao Tiew Duay Kan (We Travel Together) campaign to spur long-distance travel and generate income for local businesses, he said.

Under the campaign, the government subsidises five million nights of hotel accommodation at 40% of normal room rates, with the subsidy limited to B3,000 per night for up to five nights per person. Tourists will be responsible for the other 60% of lodging cost.

When tourists travel by airline, the government will refund 40% of the ticket price, but no more than B1,000 per seat per person and the quota is limited to 2 million seats.

According to Mr Yuthasak, the number of nights will be increased to 10 from the current five and the refund of air tickets will be increased to B2,000. “This is hoped to encourage more people to embark on long-distance travel. Currently they choose destinations within one to three hours away by car,” he said.


Regarding the reemergence of local COVID-19 infection, Suwannachai Wattanayingcharoenchai, director of the Department of Disease Control (DDC), yesterday allayed concerns the patient could be a super-spreader.

The 37-year-old male prison inmate tested positive for COVID-19 during 14-day quarantine after being sent to jail on Aug 26 for a drug offence. He worked as a DJ at two branches of the Sam Wan Song Khuen pub, one in Bangkok and the other in Nonthaburi, and visited a venue on Khao San Road on Aug 18, before he was jailed.

Dr Suwannachai said even though the patient worked in night entertainment venues he did not have direct contact with customers. “The number of people who came in to his physical contact is limited and the chance of him being a super-spreader is minimal.”

He said the number of people who came into contact with the inmate had risen to 708.

They were divided into seven groups depending on where they met or associated. Of them, 140 were identified as those being high-risk and the rest as low risk.

According to Dr Suwannachai, one of the high-risk contacts was classified as a patient under investigation (PUI) after developing a fever. Health officials last night confirmed the COVID-19 test was negative.

Health officials in Nonthaburi said yesterday a Lao woman who worked at a branch of Sam Wan Song Khuen pub reported to local authorities late Friday night after breaking the quarantine order early in the day.

According to the officials, the 20-year-old worker claimed her work permit had expired and she was afraid of being deported.

The woman was sent to a hospital in Nonthaburi to join others under 14-day quarantine.

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LALALA | 07 September 2020 - 17:25:19

sorry... must be - why they NOT open the skies than...

LALALA | 07 September 2020 - 17:24:39

... existence or they panicking because of 1 case, simply because they know they can not handle anything. Again, as LOS officials always claiming they have a world class healthcare system my question why they open the skies than ? Because their healthcare system is BS compared to Western Europe but they can not admit it, again face saving on high level = lying on high level.

LALALA | 07 September 2020 - 17:21:02

Yes Hubert, it is about testing, Europe has more cases because they test more. LOS has one of the lowest rates per capita in the world. And yes, so why an individual person should than get a test with a cough or light symptoms which may be Covid 19 if he should pay for the test. The fee is simply not affordable for the people.
And finally, yes Europe is handling the virus, LOS is denying its....

HubertK | 07 September 2020 - 13:53:21

@lLALALA/ThorFinger     Government ordered mass tests are free, but same as in many other countries if you as an individual go to a doctor/clinic and ask to be tested,they will charge you. And I don't see that countries who do more testing than Thailand are doing better in fighting the virus. Look at Europe ! It's not about testing.

Kurt | 07 September 2020 - 09:34:38

@HubertK, It is not a complain. It is noticing that Thai returning from overseas get tested, and a many, arriving with a fit to fly certificate, are arriving as a infected Covid-19 person. We can be sure when more testing is done  among the normal inhabitants will show the same outcome.

LALALA | 07 September 2020 - 09:30:30

Hubert K...yes testing in a country with such a worldclass healthcare system as claimed by the authorities should be free. On top of this authorities always playing down the impact of covid on the economy so there should be sufficient funds available for such a program. Or do I miss something ?

ThorFinger | 06 September 2020 - 21:05:46

Hubert, of course there should be free testing. What Kurt is pointing out is that without a proper testing regime, you won't be picking up cases. 

Banff | 06 September 2020 - 20:03:56

If a vaccine is just around the corner it would make sence to wait.

Galong | 06 September 2020 - 19:40:00

It must be nice to get a fat salary and play god with other people's livelihood.  He's not doing his job; he shouldn't get paid. Come up with a pro-active plan. Everyone who makes decisions that affect other people's livelihood should have their pay stopped. I'll bet they'd come up with a plan then. 

HubertK | 06 September 2020 - 15:01:28

@Kurt.  You complain about Thailand is doing to little testing. When was your last Covid  test ? Or are you waiting for a free test ?

Svcoquette | 06 September 2020 - 14:11:57

Keep the tourists you have. Encouraging them to leave 26 Sept does not send a good impression to the international community. They continue to spend money, are virus free and it's difficult if not dangerous to force them out. Look at your neighbor Malaysia who has extended all VISA s until 31 Dec.

Supaporn | 06 September 2020 - 13:42:25


Kurt | 06 September 2020 - 12:41:50

Probably when a general large Thai Covid testing program takes place there will be many positive thai people found.
Testing, testing, testing,  not done enough in Thailand. Why?..."Oh, if we don't test, we not find Covid infected people, so all fine".  Ostrich!

Shwe | 06 September 2020 - 11:59:26

obviously this plan was doomed to fail as the nationalities allowed in either cannot travel or are advised not to. There are no direct flights between either country and Phuket. So this "New" case has saved face for the idiots in charge

Kurt | 06 September 2020 - 11:53:59

Here we go As I wrote yesterday to expect Thailand to shuffle the October re-opening forward with 1 month ( November), perhaps many more months to follow, as Government sees herself that with Thai tourist policies no tourist being in right mind are coming. Better focus & prepare for the next 'green season', as by than there is hopefully a vaccine. A lot of time to improve/upgrade to 20...

LALALA | 06 September 2020 - 10:59:14 they found their Patsy for saving face again...just wondering where the 100 Australians should have come from...isnt Australia prohibting their citizens to leave their country ? Complete morons...please proceed tanking the economy..housing prices start to getting reasonable on Phuket...please continue this BS..i love it...LOL

another overseas scot | 06 September 2020 - 10:56:42

200 visitors from ANZ is BS. The opening of the economy/country delayed by ONE person who had one positive test. Madness.


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