63% of Phuket residents vaccinated as island readies to reopen


About 63 per cent of residents in Phuket have received their first shot of a Covid-19 vaccine as the largest resort island of Thailand readies to reopen to inoculated foreign visitors from July 1, a senior government official said on Thursday.

Disease Control Department Director General Opas Kankawinphong confirmed in a press briefing that 346,855 residents of Phuket have been so far given the first shot, accounting for 63.3 percent of the island’s population, reports Xinhua news agency.

The island has planned to have a total of 383,308 people, accounting for 70 per cent of its population, injected against the coronavirus with the first shot to be given within this month and the second in August, the department chief said.

The reopening plan, part of a “Phuket Sandbox” program, was approved on June 4 at a meeting of the Centre for the Economic Situation Administration, chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

Under the plan, foreign visitors from low-risk and medium-risk countries to Phuket could be exempted from mandatory quarantine if they have been fully vaccinated with Covid-19 vaccines certified by the World Health Organization.

However, they have to stay on the island and can travel freely for a minimum of 14 days before they can head to other places Thailand.

This is however, subject to the overall Covid-19 situation in the country and could change.

Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Governor Yuthasak Supasorn said that he expects around 129,000 visitors to arrive in Phuket between July and September this year.

Meanwhile, domestic travellers visiting Phuket must be fully vaccinated, have received at least one dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine or recovered from Covid-19 within 90 days.

Otherwise, they need to show proof of a negative Covid-19 test conducted within seven days prior to their arrival.

The country has also planned to welcome back vaccinated foreign visitors in nine other provinces, including the capital Bangkok and popular tourist destinations Pattaya and Chiang Mai, in the third or fourth quarter of the year.