The reopening comes as part of a new government program dubbed the 'Phuket Sandbox', which requires tourists to stay on the island for a minimum of 14 days if they wish to travel elsewhere in the country. Still, only fully vaccinated tourists from countries deemed to be low- and medium-risk will be allowed to travel to the island, and any arrivals will still need to provide a negative Covid test as well as other documentation.
Once on the island, visitors must still wear a mask at all times (even outdoors), download a tracking app on their phone, and will have to stay at special, certified hotels where 70 percent of staff have been vaccinated.
Phuket's tourism-reliant economy was hit hard by the pandemic, and as such its residents have been prioritized for the country's vaccine rollout. Currently, at least 70 percent of the population has received one dose of either Sinovac or AstraZeneca – far more than the rest of the country, which is struggling with its most severe outbreak yet.
In the past month, news also dropped of a possible tourism initiative in Phuket that could offer hotel rooms to foreign tourists for just $1 per night. However, whether or not that campaign was approved by the Tourism Authority of Thailand and the Ministry of Tourism and Sports was not part of the reopening news.
As it stands, government officials have proposed that the island of Koh Samui could reopen as soon as July 15. The rest of the country hopes to waive quarantine requirements for vaccinated tourists by October.
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