Phuket authorities have ordered more closures of high-risk public places and activities on the island to reduce the increasing number of Covid-19 infections, effective today until August 16th.
TPN media notes that the vast, vast majority of Covid-19 infections on the island are “local” cases and not from fully vaccinated foreign tourists, which have had a low percentage of positive tests and nearly all were asymptomatic or mild. This has been attributed to some visitors and people coming to the island without strict measures previously from other parts of Thailand, many trying to flee strict rules in areas like Bangkok and Chonburi.
Entertainment venues, pubs, nightclubs, bars, karaoke, and other related service establishments are ordered closed as well as places and fields for cockfighting, fish fighting, bird racing, chicken racing, boxing stadium, and any activities that are related to the gambling establishment. TPN media notes, however, that most of these places have been closed, officially, for months already.
Snooker & pool bars, internet cafes, boxing and other martial arts schools, public and private swimming pools, and educational institutions with more than five students are also closed across the island. However, hotel/resort pools, such as where Phuket sandbox customers are staying, may open.
Department stores and similar businesses are allowed to be operated normally but their game centers, play areas, and arcade sections inside the stores must remain closed.
Restaurants can also be opened normally, including dine-in, but selling alcoholic beverages at the places is not allowed at all times. This is a big change for Phuket, which unlike most of the rest of the country has allowed alcohol at restaurants mainly to appease Sandbox customers. However, according to the Governor, continued violations from bars pretending to be restaurants and venues not following social distancing rules have caused this to be rescinded.
Fresh markets, flea markets, weekend markets, and similar businesses must limit their visitors to about 1 person/4 square meters. Convenience stores can only be operated from 4:00 AM. to 11:00 PM. Outdoor sports fields and public parks, gyms, fitness, yoga, and other exercise activities can be opened until 9:00 PM.
Large gatherings of more than 50 people and any gatherings at public places are prohibited. Parties and celebrations are highly not recommended, apart from religious purposes, including private social gatherings. If necessary, participants must strictly follow the preventive health measures.
Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn had arranged a meeting with Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew and relevant departments yesterday, August 2nd, regarding the pros and cons of the “Phuket Sandbox” tourism project after running for one month.
The meeting came to the conclusion that the provincial authorities would continue to closely monitor the situation for another two weeks to see the rate of daily infections. However, the Minister was confident that the recent measures announced by Phuket authorities, as well as new and strict restrictions of domestic travelers (who are basically not allowed to enter the island at all now), would potentially and significantly reduce the total number of infections on the island.
Minister Phiphat stated: “The current reports of Covid-19 infections indicated that less than 1 percent of Phuket Sandbox visitors are infected, which is a very small number. The issue has been domestic cases and domestic visitors. The government still believes that the project can continue, despite the increasing number of infections in the country. However, we want to lower the cases as much as possible (despite over 70% of the island being fully vaccinated) to make the island as safe as possible for future tourists.”
Additionally, the Phuket governor also reassured that the tighter restrictions and proactive approach in high-risk areas would help curb the infections on the island.
“Just give us 2 weeks to proactively approach high-risk patients and clear the number of infected patients in Phuket. We believed that by August 16th, the situation should be much better. We know business owners are not happy with these strict measures, as well as tourists currently on the island, but they are only temporary. Meanwhile, Phuket authorities are trying our best to communicate with people in Phuket, Thai people, and people around the world about our situation,” Phuket Governor added.
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