The following is our weekly feature in which we take a look at the top developing stories and things to follow over the next week. We are focusing on what is happening for the second week of June, ending June 12th, 2021.
As we publish dozens of stories a week, this allows our readers to get a quick glimpse of the most important stories taking place in Thailand and Pattaya and to monitor and follow for the week ahead, as chosen by our editorial team.
1. Will the CCSA/Chonburi Governor review zone designations and restrictions later this week?
Deja vu anyone?
The end of next week will mark four weeks since the last real review of Covid-19 related restrictions and measures in Thailand and Chonburi, which saw dine-in return to Chonburi restaurants after a two-week closure. However, to the disappointment of many local residents, the Chonburi governor chose to keep all other restrictions the same, including a very unpopular closure of beaches (technically only open for exercise although some beaches are much stricter) and closures of pools, massage shops, and gyms.
The Chonburi Governor did, however, lift the restrictions on beaches on June 1st and many local residents are hopeful that some other measures, especially pools and gyms, are allowed to re-open, which is a provincial decision and the Governor could lift if he chose to do so. Additionally, popular Koh Larn is currently closed until at least June 13th, and will likely make a decision next weekend around if they will allow visitors to return or not after being closed for over a month to the public.
Although it is very unlikely that bars would be allowed to open (which is a national closure restriction and not provincial), many residents are hoping, despite an increase in Covid-19 cases in the province (still driven almost entirely by migrant workers at factories in Mueang Chonburi, Si Racha, and Phan Thong) that some more relaxation could be seen. We should know by next weekend if the CCSA or the Chonburi Governor plans to relax or change any restrictions. The Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration, or CCSA, hasn’t changed zone coding or national restrictions for about a month as of next weekend. It is not guaranteed they will do so, although the situation has improved overall in many provinces, although unfortunately remains roughly the same as it was a month ago in dark-red areas like Bangkok and Nonthaburi.
2. Thailand kicks off a mass vaccination campaign, will foreigners be allowed to register from Monday, June 7th?
Thailand officially kicks off its mass vaccination national campaign Monday, however, due to supplies and some logistics, the campaign will be more of a marathon than a sprint.
The most asked question by our readers is will foreigners be able to get/register for a vaccine as part of the government campaign. The Thai government has continually stated that yes, they will, “from” June 7th. However, as many foreign residents are finding out, this doesn’t mean “on” June 7th. They will “eventually” be able to get a vaccine and register for one, but the timeline is a huge question mark currently.
Registration for vaccinations is set by individual municipalities and provinces, and they will all have their different rules, although the supply and distribution of vaccines are set by the central Thai government. The official statement from the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration is that foreigners will be able to register at a hospital that has their medical records on file or local municipalities. In reality, although some provinces, like Chiang Mai, has created a foreign signup portal and others like Phuket are mass vaccinating foreigners with work permits (but not others yet), some provinces are entirely declining to register foreign nationals entirely until they have more of an idea of how many vaccines they will have when they will have arrived, and what their supply list looks like.
This is also why over the past week we have had many emails from local readers that stated they have contacted hospitals in the Chonburi area only to be told they won’t be taking foreigner registration on the 7th. (Some hospitals, as a note, are taking registration for PRIVATE vaccines, like Moderna, which will be paid, but there is no timeframe or idea when these will arrive either and could be months. We aren’t listing hospitals here as policies change daily.) A small number of foreigners, mostly teachers, volunteers, and medical staff who are working, have already been vaccinated as part of their company in Chonburi, but for the most part, foreigners have not been part of the program yet.
The situation is frustrating to many local residents and foreigners, even those who have lived in the country for a long time and are “used” to similar situations. As soon as we get solid information on a set overall Chonburi registration program for foreigners, we will update our readers. It is possible that “some” hospitals may take reservations, and previously the Huayyai sub-district, according to several readers, was allowing foreign national registration-but that has now finished, at least temporarily. In the meantime, interested foreigners will have to call their local hospital or the Chonburi call center at 1337 with questions. We would advise our readers, based on feedback given to us by other residents, that some hospitals have been swamped with foreign questions about the vaccines and handling upset calls, and that the situation isn’t really the hospital’s fault, as they can’t privately order vaccines at this time and are at the whim of what is distributed to them by the central government.
One major reason that hospitals had not been taking reservations is that the CCSA had recently changed the vaccine allocation around the country, including Chonburi, and many were allocated to Bangkok, where the main outbreak has taken place. You can read more about that below, but the hope is that supply should start to ramp up considerably in the next month or two. Pattaya also wants to purchase Covid-19 vaccines themselves if the process continues to be slow, but that needs government approval.
3. Phuket Sandbox to go before CCSA and Thai Cabinet for final approval early next week
The long-discussed and awaited Phuket Sandbox, which in basic terms will allow foreign tourists to return to Phuket if they are vaccinated, with some terms and conditions, was approved “in principle” by the CESA (Center for Economic Situation Administration) yesterday, June 4th.
The plan, which is facing some proposed adjustments that still need to be finalized, will go before the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) and if approved the Thai Cabinet on Monday and Tuesday of next week, the 7th and 8th. The Thai Prime Minister, Prayut Chan O’Cha, heads both committees, as well as the CESA, so the plan will nearly certainly be approved although the CCSA may make some further changes to the proposal.
We will provide an in-depth look at the Sandbox when it is likely finalized early next week.
A big week ahead of us, stay safe everyone, and thanks for your support!