Thailand recently launched an ambitious 120 day reopening plan while it has continued to battle its worst outbreak of Covid-19 and struggle with the vaccination programme.
Main picture Bangkok at night credit Geoff Greenwood on Unsplash
The country has today reported its highest daily death rate and new infections since the pandemic began with 57 deaths and 5,533 cases. The second highest daily death toll was yesterday when 53 fatalities were recorded.
That comes on the day that the Phuket Sandbox started, with the first foreign visitors arriving for quarantine-free stays.
Covid-19 in Thailand
There have been reported 235,971 Covid-19 cases since the third-wave hit Thailand on 1st April. Since the pandemic began there have been 264,834 cases. There have been 2,080 deaths in Thailand from Covid-19, including 1,986 since 1st April.
The third wave has contributed 89% of total cases and 95% of all deaths in the pandemic.
Bangkok, Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, Samut Prakan, Nakhon Pathom and Samut Sakhon are all currently classed as Maximum and Strict Controlled Area or “dark-red zones”.
Dark red zone status means that take-away services are only allowed at restaurants and eateries, including those in shopping malls, hotels, convenience stores, and street vendors. Shopping malls and department stores can stay open only until 21.00 Hrs. and cannot hold any sales promotion activities.
120 Day Plan
The 120 day plan was announced to provide a schedule for the reopening of tourist areas and provinces from July to mid-October.
Surat Thani, including Koh Samui, is the next area due to reopen from 15th July, followed by Krabi (including Phi Phi and Ao Nang), Phang Nga (including Khao Lak) and parts of Pattaya in August.
Bangkok, currently experiencing significant numbers of new daily cases, is not due to reopen for quarantine-free travel until October.
This schedule looks increasingly challenging.
Phuket needed to ensure that at least 70% of its population was inoculated and daily cases were low before it could reopen. Other areas planning to reopen will need to be able to meet similar conditions.
Availability and distribution of vaccines throughout Thailand has been problematic, with some supplies being diverted from tourism areas to those experiencing high case-loads.
It was always known that islands, such as Phuket and Samui, would be easier to reopen as movement could be more easily restricted and restrictions enforced. When Thailand starts to look at other areas it is clear that these will be harder to enforce without becoming so severe that they put off prospective tourists.
Many Thai’s do not support the 120 day plan as there is a feeling that it will put the local population at risk until a nationwide herd immunity can be achieved through wide-spread vaccinations.
The Thai economy is heavily reliant on Tourism and the government is keen to kick-start the industry again, but will it be able to contain the outbreak and deliver vaccines in time to enable destinations like Bangkok open again on schedule?
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