Prayut lands in Phuket to welcome first sandbox arrivals


Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and his entourage landed in Phuket’s Thalang district at 10am on Thursday to visit local officials and witness the passenger screening process.

Phuket opened its doors to foreigners on Thursday for the first time since the start of the Covid-19 outbreak early last year. Tourists are allowed to land under a sandbox scheme if they can prove they have been fully inoculated against Covid-19 and test negative. Those approved can move freely on the island without having to quarantine.

After staying in Phuket for 14 days, they can travel to other provinces if they test negative for a second time.

“I realise that reopening Phuket is risky, but it is a risk we have to take for the sake of our country,” Prayut said. “The most important thing is to monitor the situation closely and act swiftly in case a situation emerges.

“We need to ensure that the sandbox scheme runs smoothly and contributes to the goal of fully reopening Thailand within 120 days,” added Prayut, referring to the promise he made in a June 16 televised public address on the Covid-19 situation. “If successful, data from this scheme will be gathered and shared among other provinces to design their reopening campaign.”

Prayut lands in Phuket to welcome first sandbox arrivals

The premier first visited the Tha Chat Chai checkpoint before moving on to check out Phuket’s Emergency Operations Centre (EOC), which functions as a central unit to monitor tourists via the Thailand Plus and Mor Chana applications. All tourists must install the apps and allow themselves to be tracked on GPS during their entire stay.

Prayut also traveled to Royal Phuket City Hotel in Muang district to chair a meeting with provincial officers regarding the progress of the Phuket Sandbox scheme.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand reported that 300 foreigners are scheduled to land in Phuket on Thursday on Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways, El Al Israel Airlines and Singapore Airlines flights. The PM is scheduled to visit the airport in the evening to welcome tourists arriving on the Singapore Airlines flight.