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Phuket Reopens | Thai PM Welcomes Foreign Tourists

BANGKOK: Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha welcomes foreign tourists from a Singapore Airlines flight at Phuket airport on Thursday, July 1.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha told the public that Thailand needs to accept the risk of reopening the country, kicking off with the so-called Phuket Sandbox scheme to welcome foreign tourists on Thursday.

Gen Prayut was confident the country’s tourism will be resuscitated if all parties involved succeed in pushing ahead with the scheme.

According to the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA), if more than 15 new infections are detected per 100,000 people in Phuket in one week, the sandbox may be delayed or even cancelled.

The prime minister, together with cabinet ministers and senior health officials, arrived on the resort island to meet officials and health volunteers.

They visited Phuket International Airport to welcome a group of 51 tourists from Singapore in the evening.

“Hello, welcome to Thailand,” Gen Prayut greeted the incoming tourists who were unaware beforehand they would be welcomed by him.

A total of 347 passengers on flights from Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Singapore landed on Thursday.

The first group of travellers then underwent screening, which included fever and vaccination checks. All were required to download the Thailand Plus and Mor Chana apps.

They later went through immigration and customs procedures before having swab samples taken for RT-PCR testing.

They were subsequently taken to their hotels where they were to wait 24 hours for the test results. If the results are negative, they will be able to go to other parts of the island. If they are positive, they will be immediately taken to hospitals.

Started on Thursday, July 1, Phuket waived quarantine requirements for foreign tourists who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 under the sandbox model, which is being touted as a model for the reopening of the country’s tourism industry.

Early in the day, Gen Prayut inspected the screening station at the airport before going to the Royal Phuket City Hotel in Muang district to chair a follow-up meeting on the sandbox scheme.

“Flights have started to come in, with bookings made. More flights are expected to come in the next 15 days until the next quarter. If the Phuket Sandbox succeeds, we can expand the model to other areas,” the prime minister said.

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