Thai Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Health Anutin Charnvirakul yesterday announced that 500,000 doses of Sinovac and AstraZeneca vaccines will be expedited to vaccinate local residents in Krabi to hasten the reopening of the province to tourism. Mr Anutin made the announcement at a press conference held during his visit to Krabi yesterday (Oct 7), accompanied by Minister of Tourism and Sports Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn.
Joining the press conference was Phutthiphong Sirimat, who recently arrived to take up the position of Krabi Governor.
Mr Anutin pointed out that Phi Phi Island, Koh Ngai and Railay Beach were now extensions of the Sandbox scheme, where Sandbox arrivals may visit after completing their seven day stay in Phuket.
As of last Friday, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) announced that Sandbox arrivals after landing in Phuket may now travel directly to any of the three areas and observe their seven days’ quarantine free to roam anywhere within the ’Blue Zone’ safety areas.
“Starting from 1 October, 2021, fully vaccinated visitors under the “Sandbox” programme to Ko Phi Phi, Ko Ngai, and Railay Beach are welcome to stay within the destination for seven days, and afterwards will be able to continue their journey to other parts of Thailand,” the TAT said in its announcement last Friday.
“During the seven nights, visitors can go anywhere within the ‘Blue Zone Free Travel’ in the Phi Phi Island, Koh Ngai and Railay Beach areas. They are required to undergo two RT-PCR tests – first upon arrival on Day 0-1, and the second before finishing the stay period on Day 6-7. “On Day 7, after receiving a negative test result, travellers can obtain a ‘Release Form’ and from Day 8 travel to other parts of Thailand,” the TAT added.
Mr Anutin yesterday pointed out that all local residents in the three areas had been fully vaccinated since June. However, he also added that so far the areas had received only 416 Sandbox tourists. Of the ‘Group 608’ residents in Krabi, comprising eight definitions of people at greater risk of developing serious complications if infected with COVID-19, only 62.51% had been vaccinated. Overall, the vaccination efforts had managed to provide injections to 35.71% of the province’s population, he added.
Koh Lanta, as a key target area for more tourists, already has 90.22% of its residents vaccinated, and is to be targeted in the phase of mass vaccinations to speed up the reopening of that island to tourism, Mr Anutin said.
“The delivery of 500,000 doses [of Sinovacac and AstraZeneca vaccines) to distribute to the general public throughout the province is needed 100% ASAP,” Mr Anutin said. He added the expedited vaccination efforts would also help see schools reopen in November.
“Most important is that people in the area must jointly comply with the highest measures of self-defense [against infection] while establishments follow the ‘Covid Free Setting’ guidelines so that people and tourists can resume under a new way of life as safely as possible,” he said.
“Krabi Province is a tourist area connected to Phuket Province, which receives a lot of people from outside. Therefore, vaccination must be accelerated to 100% in order to keep everyone in the area safe,” Mr Anutin continued.
“The same strict measures must be applied in the surveillance of foreign workers. Non-local workers or groups smuggling into the area to work may bring infections that spread to local people,” he said.
“But if all measures are carried out together, this will make Krabi a safe tourist destination and attract tourists who help generate income for the country again,” he concluded.
Under the latest order, COVID-prevention measures in Krabi remain strict. According to new notices explaining the restrictions in effect posted by Krabi officials: no alcohol is allowed in restaurants, ‘at risk’ venues such as dine in eateries, cinemas, markets, malls must close at 8pm, parties or any gatherings for celebrations are banned and traditional ceremonies such as marriages and funerals are limited to 20 people.
However, Krabi officials have eased the time requirements COVID tests for entering Krabi province. Domestic visitors entering Krabi must be fully vaccinated and must test negative for COVID-19 by RT-PCR or antigen test kit (ATK) method within seven days before arriving. Previously the tests needed to be conducted within 72 hours of arriving. Children under 6 years of age are exempt from the requirements.
Source: The Phuket News