As the government seeks to restart the crucial coronavirus-devastated tourism industry, Thailand’s Prime minister announced that the country will fully reopen to vaccinated foreign visitors by mid-October. Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said fully inoculated foreign visitors and returning Thai citizens must be allowed entry without quarantine or other inconvenient restrictions, and that his goal is to open up the country within 120 days.
The PM acknowledged that the push to re-open might create problems. “I know this decision comes with some risk because, when we open the country, there will be an increase in infections, no matter how good our precautions,” he said. “But I think when we take into consideration the economic needs of the people, the time has come for us to take that calculated risk.” He said the government would reconsider only if a serious situation develops.
The government had previously targeted next January for reopening the country. Thailand is in the midst of a surge in coronavirus cases that started in April and has accounted for more than 80% of the country’s 204,595 total confirmed cases and 90% of its 1,525 deaths.
The surge has caused special concern because Thailand has been late in securing and deploying vaccine supplies.
“To date, we have signed reservation and supply contracts for 105.5 million doses to be delivered this year, putting us ahead of our target for vaccine supplies. Based on our current plans, we will administer an average of about 10 million shots a month from July, so that by early October almost 50 million people will have had at least their first shot administered.”
Thailand plans to begin a trial scheme next month in which it will allow fully vaccinated visitors from abroad to enter Phuket without quarantine. But the so-called “Phuket sandbox” still entails restrictions, including a requirement to stay on the island for 14 days before heading to the mainland.