Starting in April, foreign tourists that have received their shots of any of the existing COVID-19 vaccines can visit six provinces in Thailand. This is in line with the government’s gradual easing of restrictions from April onwards in light of the ongoing vaccinations around the world.
One of the restrictions that will be relaxed is the length of the mandatory quarantine. Instead of being quarantined for 14 days, vaccinated tourists will only need to be isolated for seven days. This is half of the currently mandated quarantine period for international arrivals in the Kingdom.
By July, however, vaccinated tourists will be exempted from the mandatory requirement. Phuket will be the first province to implement this. The easing is still part of the government’s efforts to reopen the country to international tourism after a year of lockdown.
In addition to Phuket, five other provinces – Surat Thani, Chon Buri, Chiang Mai, Phang Nga, and Krabi – will gradually reopen to foreign tourism following the island province’s model.
According to Minister of Tourism and Sports Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, the Center for Economic Situation Administration had given the green light to a three-stage process that will govern the reopening of the above mentioned provinces to tourism.
The CESA is in charge of discussing issues pertaining to the Kingdom’s economic recovery and rehabilitation efforts, and is chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha. Its counterpart is the Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration, which monitors all information and actions with regards to COVID-19 control and prevention.
For the first three months, Minister Phiphat said that visitors that can present proof of vaccination will only need to be quarantined for seven days.
By July, vaccinated tourists can be exempted from mandatory quarantine once the Phuket Tourism Sandbox project is initiated. Under the sandbox, tourists are free to visit other places outside of hotels but they are initially limited to certain areas in Phuket for the first seven days of their stay.
After seven days, they will be free to visit places outside of the sealed zone established by Phuket’s provincial government.
The sandbox still mandates the use of contact tracing apps on the tourists’ mobile phones.
Come October, the five other provinces will also implement their own versions of the Phuket sandbox model. This means that they can now also allow vaccinated tourists to waive quarantine requirements and visit areas within “sealed zones” that their government defines.
By early January, Mr. Phiphat said that the government is expecting to finally reopen Thailand to foreign tourism.
The Minister said that Governor Yuthasak Supasorn of the Tourism Authority of Thailand will be discussing the soft reopening with the Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration and the Cabinet of Prime Minister Prayut next week.
For his part, TAT governor Yuthasak said that they will be presenting to the CCSA the areas covered under the “sealed zones” of the Sandbox in Phuket. He also said that locals in the island need to give their permission and support to the project.
“Phuket is better-equipped to serve as the sandbox model to accommodate tourists first as the government will expedite the two-dose vaccination [process] for at least 70% of the population in Phuket before July 1,” Mr Yuthasak said.