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Tuesday, February 7, 2023

The islands of Phuket, Samui and Chang will become “free sandboxes” in Thailand


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The islands of Phuket, Samui and Chang will become “free sandboxes” in Thailand

Thailand offers free entry and holidays on the “sandbox” islands of Samui, Chang and Phuket to all foreign vaccinated tourists

In anticipation of Covid-19 being declared endemic across the country in July, the Thai Ministry of Health is proposing to start with the islands right now. The ministry is proposing to declare Coovid-19 endemic on three major tourist islands — Samui in Surat Thani, Chang in Trat and Phuket — which would pave the way for the reopening of nightlife entertainment venues.

Permanent Secretary for Health Kiatthiphum Wongrajit said the ministry is seeking approval from the Kovid-19 Situation Center for its “endemic sandbox” initiative, the first step toward declaring Kovid-19 endemic nationwide. Criteria for an “endemic sandbox” include reduced infection rates, the level of preparedness of health services and a high level of vaccination among the population in those areas, Kiattyphum explained.

“We chose the islands, which are the country’s main tourist destinations, primarily because of their limited territory, so it’s easier to control diseases there,” Kiattiphum said.

The initiative is expected to lead to the Thai government declaring Covid-19 an endemic disease in July.

In the “sandboxes,” nightspots will be able to reopen under certain restrictions, said Kiattiphum, adding that customers must be fully vaccinated. People with underlying diseases will be advised to avoid such places.

Dr Kiattiphum emphasized that protective masks will remain a requirement.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Health Anuthin Charnvirakul said that Thailand is expected to see further improvement in the Covid-19 situation this month and next, so the ministry will likely lower the alert level for the Covid-19 outbreak to Level 2.

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