The island of Phuket, a popular tourist destination in Thailand, has temporarily increased its entry restrictions due to a current round of Covid-19 taking place around the country. However, one aspect of these increased measures has many foreign residents expressing their anger on social media.
The new measures, set to last until at least April 30th and has officially started today, April 21st, require either one to prove they have been completely vaccinated (which due to a limited number of vaccines in Thailand the vast majority have not yet) or that one has taken a Covid-19 test in the past 72 hours with proof. It’s not this aspect that has angered some foreign residents, however.
If one does not fulfill one of these requirements they have the option of taking a rapid Covid-19 test at entry points to the province. For a Thai national, this is free. A foreign national, regardless if they have a work permit, marriage visa, or other proof of having been in the country for a long-term period of time, must pay 500 baht. This act, in principle, caused widespread anger on social media throughout the afternoon today.
According to Phuket officials, the National Health Security Office is covering the test for Thais, but unfortunately, foreigners are not covered. Many foreigners with work permits who pay tax and are covered under social security immediately cried foul, with no immediate response from officials.
Currently in Thailand, due to strict border controls and limits on those who can arrive, nearly all the foreigners in the country are long-term ex-pats and not short-term tourists.
The Phuket checkpoints differ as well…the airport checkpoints screen every passenger but the land checkpoints only screen those from eighteen “high-risk” areas, including Chonburi and Bangkok.
In addition, those visiting the island must also register through a special website, GoPhuket, and have the Thai tracking and tracing platform Morchana registered and running on their phones at all times.
The only exceptions are delivery drivers and they also must have paperwork showing their exception.
For now, the dialogue continues online but it seems unlikely the requirements, including the ones that have different pricing options, will change anytime soon.