Four more areas, namely Chiang Khan, Koh Kood, Koh Chang, and Koh Samet, are approved in principle to be added to the list of pilot areas under Thailand’s reopening plan within 120 days, according to the approval of the ministers at an online conference yesterday, September 1st.
Additionally, more details of the proposed and approved in principle Pattaya Bubble and Seal plan were revealed prior to a final proposal to the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) and the Thai Cabinet later this month (See below).
Dr. Satit Pitutecha, Deputy Minister of Public Health, hosted the conference with the steering committee to develop Thailand into an international health center (Medical Hub Policy), joined by Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn and Thares Krasanairawiwong, Director-General of the Department of Health Service Support, Ministry of Health.
The meeting has approved, in principle, five proposals including the guidelines, measures, and additional areas to join the countries reopening within 120 days according to government policy.
Chiang Khan of Loei province, Koh Kood and Koh Chang of Trat province, and Koh Samet of Rayong province will join Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Hua Hin, and Pattaya in the reopening plan in October under the “Bubble and Sealed” tourism method (see below). The areas will be introduced to the cabinet committee afterward.
The ministers also support the domestic production of 4 types of vaccines as a production hub in Thailand and will propose the idea to the Cabinet committee for financial support and the FDA’s license registration. The Covid-19 vaccines are ChulaCov19, Baiya Vaccine, Covid-19 HXP – GPO Vac, and a Nasal Covid-19 Spray by Biotech.
Following the Medical Hub Policy, the meeting encourages the development of the Wellness Hub of Thailand as well as Thai massage and Thai spas to reach international standards.
Health tourism routes in nine provinces will also be introduced to the Cabinet committee to become what they hope will be the world’s herbal center with the use of cannabis and herbal products. The provinces are Udon Thani, Sakon Nakhon, Nakhon Phanom, Nong Khai, Loei, Nong Bua Lamphu, Bueng Kan, Nakhon Ratchasima, Prachin Buri (Aphai Phubet), and Buriram (Non Malai model).
TPN Media notes Pattaya is still on the agenda for “reopening” in October and is planned to get final approval later this month.
However, what the government considers “reopening” and what the average tourist considers will likely be vastly different ideas.
The program is, at this time and subject to change, based on a “bubble and seal” standard operating platform, similar to Koh Samui currently. Essentially, this means a tourist would have to stay at a resort that meets SHA (Safety and Health Administration) standards in the Pattaya area for at least seven days. They could utilize the resort’s premises and facilities but could not leave the overall area. They would also have to go through several hoops at home to get here, including a Covid-19 test, proof of vaccination, and a certificate of approval from their nearest Thai embassy or consulate, as well as mandatory insurance.
After two Covid-19 tests in the first seven days at the resort, the tourist would then be allowed to go on tours around the Pattaya area to approved locations. Early spots named were Nong Nooch Gardens, Buddha Hill, islands, water activities like diving, Sanctuary of Truth, Wat Yansangwararam, Khao Kheow Open Zoo, the Floating Market, Rubber Land, Underwater World, and other attractions that would be easy for one to socially distance with little risk of spread of Covid-19. None of these tours would be “mandatory” and one could simply stay at the resort if they wished.
After a final Covid-19 test, one would be allowed to travel where they wished after fourteen days, under the proposal. Although some people would certainly opt into the program, especially those who reside permanently in the country or snowbirds, many would prefer no quarantine at all or being able to visit the locations and destinations of their choice, such as Pattaya’s famous nightlife or bars, which have no guarantee of even being able to open in October and have currently been shuttered since April 10th of this year.
As for a true no quarantine style “reopening” to vaccinated foreign tourists with all sectors of business fully open this is unlikely to happen until at least January 2022, according to the Pattaya Mayor earlier this week, Sonthaya Khunplume, speaking at a vaccination drive.
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