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Updated - Prison visitors banned: Phuket Prison Island Holidays...

Thailand has introduced covid quarantine where tourists have the freedom to roam about a holiday island... but they must wear a prison GPS bracelet to alert police should they try to escape


Link Here28th July 2021
Tourists are being invited to Thailand under a mandatory 14 day covid quarantine scheme, but with innovative idea that the whole of the island of Phuket will be declared as the quarantine zone.

Visitors to Phuket under the Phuket Sandbox scheme will be required to wear a wristband that will track their location at all times. Presumably the system is designed to alert the police of any attempt for the tourists to escape the confinement zone.

Note the term 'sandbox' is a computing term meaning an offline experimentation area where new designs can be tested before going live in the real world system.

The news regarding wristbands was confirmed as officials in Phuket this week began preparing the security protocols that will be put in place for all foreigners arriving on the island from July 1. Thai news site Manager reported on some of the security protocols that will be put in place, which include security checkpoints on the main road leading to the island screening everyone arriving or trying to leave.

The checkpoints will feature facial recognition cameras that will be able to detect any tourist who tries to leave Phuket before the 14 day mandatory quarantine period.

The conditions of entry into Thailand are extremely onerous and require that visitors are doubly vaccinated, pay for a series of 4 PCR covid, tests, book in with state approved quarantine hotels, buy covid health insurance, and apply to the local embassy for permission to travel to Thailand. And of course to take the risk of having their holiday totally written off in detention should they fail a covid test.

And by the way, all bars, discos, and gogos etc are currently closed due to a coronavirus lockdown.

Officials ludicrously said they expect approximately 129,000 foreigners to visit Phuket under the Sandbox scheme. The scheme is unlikely attract any tourists as at all, but may appeal to visitors who have business or family in Thailand who may prefer to spend their 2 weeks quarantine on the beach rather than locked up in a hotel room.

Update: Prisoner tracking centre opens

26th June 2021. See article from forum.thaivisa.com

A visitor tracking centre for the Phuket Sandbox has been set up on the resort island, with 70% of its equipment installation complete. Phuket will be the first province to 'welcome' fully vaccinated foreign visitors, with the whole resort island being defined as a quarantine zone, from July 1st.

The centre will be used, along with the Mor Prom and Mor Chana apps, to track the movements of foreign tourists on Phuket. Tourists will be required to install one of the apps upon arrival. If an infection is found, the information will be sent to health investigators so tourists can be incarcerated in state quarantine facilities, euphemistically called 'field hospitals'.

On the positive side there is no mention of the prison bracelet being part of the tracking arsenal.

Update: Prison rules

28th June 2021.

The Phuket snadbox scheme has now officially passed into Thai law as noted by its publication in the Royal Gazette.

However this latest round of bureaucracy has inevitably added a few restrictions and hassles.

Firstly visitors have to book the required 3 PCR tests on Phuket at 2800 Baht each prior to travel and present the receipt to the Thai embassy when applying for a certificate of entry. You will need a 4th test should you want to move on to the rest of Thailand after your 14 days of Phuket quarantine, and get paperwork to show the Phuket border guards.

Richard Barrow reports on conditions contained in the official description of the scheme:

Tourists must have an active tracking system on them at all times. They must go straight to hotel in a specially arranged car. Cannot leave hotel until first test results. Must report to handler at hotel every day. Cannot stay overnight elsewhere.

 

Update: So how did it go?

5th July 2021. See article from thethaiger.com

In the first 4 days of the scheme, the island has welcomed 1,896 international arrivals, most of whom are foreign nationals. Below is the breakdown:
  • Day 1: 479 (303 foreign nationals, 176 Thais)
  • Day 2: 544 (467 foreign nationals, 77 Thais)
  • Day 3: 389 (319 foreign nationals, 70 Thais)
  • Day 4: 481 (327 foreign nationals, 154 Thais)
  • Day 5: 141
  • Day 6: 217
  • Day 7: 286
     
  • Day 8: 125
  • Day 9: 762
  • Day 10: 630 (total 3917, average 392 per day)
  • Day 11: 651
  • Day 12: 210
  • Day 13: 396
  • Day 14: 299
     
  • Day 15: 237
  • Day 16: 871
  • Day 17: 881
  • Day 18: 915
  • Day 19: 242
  • Day 20: 362 (total 8981, average 449 per day)
  • Day 21: 377
     
  • Day 22: 172
  • Day 23: 679
  • Day 24: 640
  • Day 25: 736

Meanwhile the similar, but even more restrictive Ko Samui Plus, scheme has attracted just 20 visitors in its first week.

 

Update: Prison breaks

6th July 2021. See article from aseannow.com

Two visitors Phuket onn the sandbox scheme have been returned to custody after attempting to escape.

One visitor who had not turned on tracking on his app was found not to have checked in at his hotel. Instead he went straight to find his wife and child at his house in Rawai.

He was soon brought back into the system and returned to his cell.

Another man, aged 83, was staying at a hotel in Thalang and went out without his phone or passport, just with his wallet. He was discovered at 4.30 am wandering near a department store in Wichit sub-district. Wichit police gave him food and drink before retuning him to his cell.

Governor Narong Wunden gave details at City Hall yesterday. The man in charge of the tracking from a firm called SIPA, Pracha Atsawatheera said the tourist who had gone to see his wife at his home had not turned on location finding on the app ever since he was in the airport. He stupidly turned it on when he got home to Rawai.

 

Update: On the positive side

8th July 2021. See article from flyingdogtravel.com

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has published an updated list of countries where travel is allowed from for entry into the Phuket Sandbox.

France and the UK remain on the list despite indications last weekend from the Thai Ministry of Health that they would be added to the prohibited list.

 

Update: Group punishment

10th July 2021. See article from thephuketnews.com
See video press interview with quarantined visitor from YouTube

Twelve tourists are now stuck in their cells in alternative local quarantine (ALQ) in Phuket after one person who arrived on the same flight to the island tested positive for COVID-19.

It is not entirely clear as to what level of contact with an infected person qualifies for being forced to stay locked up in a hotel room, but it surely increases the odds massively of having a holiday totally ruined, even for doubly vaccinated people with negative tests. In this latest example (See Youtube video) the visitor was seated on her flight in the row behind people who went on to test positive.

It is also becoming apparent that children are proving to be the weak link in the island quarantine system as they have not been vaccinated and so pose quite a risk to the holidays of people they come in contact with.

 

Offsite Comment: The Sandbox Guarantee: taking the what ifs out of travelling to Thailand

10th July 2021. See article from thethaiger.com

The 'Sandbox Guarantee', or a similar style of guarantee for incoming passengers, is an important step if the Thai government is honest about restarting the country's vital tourism economy.

 

Update: Think of the Children

12th July 2021. See article from ttrweekly.com

Popular Thailand blogger, Richard Barrow, tweeted an alert at the start of the Phuket Sandbox warning families of the potential risk when booking a Phuket holiday under the sandbox rules.

The small print was a mite too small for most of us to read or grasp, but a week after the first international flight arrived, 1 July, the risks made prominent headlines. Two young children (eight and nine) failed their second round of testing. Health workers whisked them off to the designated Covid-19 hospital for treatment.

Their parents headed in a different direction, leaving their comfortable hotel of choice for a mandatory 14-day quarantine in an Alternative Local Quarantine hotel. It's the unthinkable outcome, the worst-case scenario, and it should make families think twice about travelling to the Phuket Sandbox or any other destination under strict Covid-19 measures.

 Update: Prison visitors banned

28th July 2021. See article from bangkokpost.com

If you are thinking of saying meeting your Thai partner for a couple of weeks holiday in Phuket, them maybe you'd like to think again.

The Phuket governor has ordered the entire island sealed off, with travellers from other provinces not allowed to enter Phuket starting from Aug 3.

A provincial order, signed by Governor Narong Woonciew, outlined the stiffer travel restrictions in Phuket. People from outside the province are prohibited from travelling to Phuket with the exception of those transporting essential goods, students, and emergency medical services. Those exempt are still required to be fully vaccinated and have proof to show at the entry checkpoint.

Meanwhile, Department of Disease Control (DDC) director-general Kajornsak Kaewjaras said the department will monitor the Covid-19 situation in Phuket for another two weeks to decide whether to keep the Phuket Sandbox scheme.

 

 

If you're thinking of returning to Thailand...

Maybe October is too soon as the tourism will reconsider re-opening plans


Link Here25th July 2021
The Tourism Authority of Thailand chief says October reopening plan for ten provinces will need to be reassessed in light of pandemic

Yutthasak Suphasorn has noted that the pandemic is out of control in Thailand and vaccination is still low.

The October 1st reopening plan - part of PM Prayuth Chan-ocha's grand 120 day reopening master plan - applies to Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Prachuap Khirikhan (Hua Hin), Phetchaburi (Cha-Am), Chonburi (Pattaya), Buriram, as well as Phuket, Surat Thani, Krabi and Phangnga where reopening is progressing according to plans already in place.

Yutthasak told Sanook that the pandemic could not be controlled at the present time and he noted the CCSA were reporting 10,000 new cases daily.

New assessments and plans were necessary given the current situation as Thailand would have to be careful regarding safety and risk factors.

 

 

Thailand bans free speech on trains...

Any speech in fact, its a covid restriction


Link Here12th July 2021
Thailand's Department of Rail Transport (DRT) has requested that passengers no longer talk on trains in order to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

As well as wearing face masks and making sure they socially distance, passengers should not talk to one another or on the telephone, the DRT chief Kittiphan Panchan said.

Passengers are also required to use hand sanitizer at the start and end of their journey and check in using the Thai Chana smartphone app.

The new measures concerning rail travel will be in place until at least July 25.

 

 

Dangerous Thailand...

Thai authorities propose a £11,400 fine for internet users who post a picture of an alcoholic drink


Link Here2nd July 2021
Full story: Internet Censorship in Thailand...Thailand implements mass website blocking
Thailand's The Standard news website has reported that it could soon be possible to be fined 500,000 baht (£11,400) just for posting a picture of a glass of beer or wine. And 60-80% of that fine could go into the pocket of the police or authority that brought the prosecution.

Up to now private individuals can be fined 50,000 baht (£1150) for promoting or advertising alcohol. Now a draft amendment from the authorities is proposing this is increased to half a million baht.

Commercial entities are liable to larger fines, currently at 500,000 baht, but the proposals would see this rise to a full one million baht.

There is also a proposal to stop a kind of loophole that allows big firms to promote their products by referring to soda rather than beer. Eg the beer maker Singha advertises its bottled water brand with a logo that is also used for its beer.

In future just using the soda/water logo could be illegal and subject to the alcohol fines by association.

The new proposals are currently on public consultation until 9th July, although it is a little offputting that ID cards are required from those wishing to comment.

 

 

Updated: Prison Island Holidays...

Thailand is proposing covid quarantine where tourists have the freedom to roam about a holiday island... but must wear a prison GPS bracelet to alert police should they try to escape


Link Here26th June 2021
Tourists are being invited to Thailand under a mandatory 14 day covid quarantine scheme, but with innovative idea that the whole of the island of Phuket will be declared as the quarantine zone.

Visitors to Phuket under the Phuket Sandbox scheme will be required to wear a wristband that will track their location at all times. Presumably the system is designed to alert the police of any attempt for the tourists to escape the confinement zone.

Note the term 'sandbox' is a computing term meaning an offline experimentation area where new designs can be tested before going live in the real world system.

The news regarding wristbands was confirmed as officials in Phuket this week began preparing the security protocols that will be put in place for all foreigners arriving on the island from July 1. Thai news site Manager reported on some of the security protocols that will be put in place, which include security checkpoints on the main road leading to the island screening everyone arriving or trying to leave.

The checkpoints will feature facial recognition cameras that will be able to detect any tourist who tries to leave Phuket before the 14 day mandatory quarantine period.

The conditions of entry into Thailand are extremely onerous and require that visitors are doubly vaccinated, pay for a series of 4 PCR covid, tests, book in with state approved quarantine hotels, buy covid health insurance, and apply to the local embassy for permission to travel to Thailand. And of course to take the risk of having their holiday totally written off in detention should they fail a covid test.

And by the way, all bars, discos, and gogos etc are currently closed due to a coronavirus lockdown.

Officials ludicrously said they expect approximately 129,000 foreigners to visit Phuket under the Sandbox scheme. The scheme is unlikely attract any tourists as at all, but may appeal to visitors who have business or family in Thailand who may prefer to spend their 2 weeks quarantine on the beach rather than locked up in a hotel room.

Update: Prisoner tracking centre opens

26th June 2021. See article from forum.thaivisa.com

A visitor tracking centre for the Phuket Sandbox has been set up on the resort island, with 70% of its equipment installation complete. Phuket will be the first province to 'welcome' fully vaccinated foreign visitors, with the whole resort island being defined as a quarantine zone, from July 1st.

The centre will be used, along with the Mor Prom and Mor Chana apps, to track the movements of foreign tourists on Phuket. Tourists will be required to install one of the apps upon arrival. If an infection is found, the information will be sent to health investigators so tourists can be incarcerated in state quarantine facilities, euphemistically called 'field hospitals'.

On the positive side there is no mention of the prison bracelet being part of the tracking arsenal.

 

 

A short time ban on room guests...

More repressive conditions emerge on who you are allowed to room with on Phuket prison island


Link Here25th June 2021
As the Phuket Sandbox scheme there have been quite a few posts defining further details and revealing a few of the more contentious issues that may have caused the delays to date.

First of all the current thinking is that the required legal changes will be passed into law this weekend allowing foreign embassies to issue Certificates of Entry from Midday Monday (Thai time).

Detailed pricing has been released for the swathe of PCR testing that each visitor is required to undergo. There are several testing centres on Phuket and they will charge 2800 Baht per test (£65). Tests can also be obtained in island hospitals at 3500 Baht. Test results will always be sent to the tracking centre and any positive test will result in that person being isolated from their party and being sent to a quarantine hotel for a fixed time, Seemingly this alarmingly applies to kids too.

The most controversial issue is that the authorities don't want to allow visitors to mix with locals in their hotel rooms, so putting an end to anybody wanting to spend their quarantine time with Thai based partners. This seems to have a kicked off some debate about whether hotel shared room bookings can only be made by legally married couples. Of course short time visits seem totally out of the question.

The Thai authorities also seem concerned about being able to verify paperwork showing people have been doubly vaccinated. For the moment many countries are doing their own thing with a mix of apps and paper print outs.

The authorities also seem a little concerned that they are forcing visitors to download to tracking apps, but at least there has been no further mention of GPS prison tracking bracelets.

 

 

Prison island resort opening soon...

Thailand tourist re-opening in Phuket approved by the government, but not yet officially made law, yet the government is expecting 1500 tourists on the first day


Link Here23rd June 2021
Blogger Richard Barrow usually has his finger on the pulse and writes:

Seven days to go to the Phuket Reopening & the details still haven't been published in the Royal Gazette [ie passed into law]. This means Thai embassies cannot issue a Certificate of Entry yet. Anyway, hotels cannot issue the QR Code needed for the COE until the SHABA [approved quarantine hotel booking system] website is launched on Saturday.

But even though tourists cannot book yet, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Governor has revealed, that the Phuket Sandbox has already been scheduled to welcome more than 1,500 foreign tourists on its first day, as measure by flight bookings.

Meanwhile Richard Barrow tweets about a massive risk to visitors that has been rarely mentioned by the authorities:

I want to point out something that people in the tourism industry are not telling you. I know I'll get attacked for saying this, but if anyone in your family or group tests positive, you'll be separated from them. They'll go to hospital [even children] and you will be sent to a quarantine hotel. [Of course all of this will be at the tourists' expense].

 

 

Old problems...

Thailand allows retirement O-A visa applicants to show savings of £70,000 should they be too old to obtain the required health insurance


Link Here18th June 2021
A retirement visa is available at foreign embassies that allows for a 12 month stay in Thailand (renewable in Thailand for a further 12 months). Requirements are broadly similar to a 12 month extension of stay available in Thailand for holders of O visas, except that there is a requirement to purchase health insurance covering $100,000 of health care.

This is a bit of problem for older visitors as health insurance gets impossible to obtain for older people.

Thailand has now recognised this problem and will now allow O-A applicants to show 3 million Baht of securities or savings should they be refused health insurance.

 

 

Updated: Prison holiday...

Doubly vaccinated visitors to Phuket have to quarantine on the island for a further 14 days.


Link Here11th June 2021
The Thai government has given the green light to the plan to reopen Phuket to doubly vaccinated foreign tourists starting on July 1. Such visitors are required to stay quarantined on the island for a further 14 days. Furthermore visitors have to stay in expensive state designated hotels and be subjected to expensive PCR testing on several occasions throughout their stay.

The plan was approved during a meeting of the Centre for Economic Situation Administration (Cesa) chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha. It was proposed by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) and the Sport and Tourism Ministry.

From July 1, Phuket will be the first province to allow foreign tourists. It is thought unlikely that tourists will put up with the onerous restrictions but the scheme prove to a pleasanter option for those returning to Thailand for work or family. Freedom to walk around town may be better than being stuck in a hotel room for 2 weeks.

The government turned down plans for similar quarantine schemes in Krabi and Koh Samui.

There were precious few details of the scheme except that Phuket will reopen to tourists who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 for more than 14 days but no more than one year prior to their visit, and they must come from low-to-moderate risk countries as announced by the Public Health Ministry. Children aged under six who come with their fully vaccinated parents will be allowed into Phuket while children between six and 18 years old will have to undergo Covid-19 testing upon arrival at Phuket airport, he said.

Foreign tourists must have vaccination certificates from their countries and the vaccines they have received must be registered under Thai law or approved by the World Health Organization, he said.

Tourists must stay at hotels that have Safety & Health Administration Plus hygiene standards certification, he said, adding they will still be required to use contact tracing apps during their stay in the kingdom.

They must also report regularly to health authorities (reportedly for PCR testing on day 5 & 12), and strictly abide by the Covid-19 DMHTTA rules (distancing, mask-wearing, hand-washing, temperature testing, Covid testing and mobile app use).

It has not been published if onerous paperwork requirements for Certificate of Entry, pre arrival PCR testing, and whether covid insurance will be required.

Update: Confirming that the scheme includes the full horror show of onerous paperwork and expense to visit Phuket

9th June 2021. See article from tatnews.org

The TAT explains the details of the scheme:

Phuket Sandbox At a glance
  • Applicable for international travellers who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 no less than 14 days, but no later than 1 year before the travel date. They must also be from countries/regions with a low to medium risk of SAR-CoV-2 virus as announced and constantly updated by the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH).
  • Applicable for children under 6 years of age travelling with fully vaccinated parents or guardians.
  • Applicable for children between 6 and 18 years of age travelling with fully vaccinated parents or guardians, but they are required to take a COVID-19 test upon arrival at their own expense.
  • All vaccinated international arrivals must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 with a vaccine registered with the MoPH or approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
  • All arrivals are required to download and install the ThailandPlus application on their smartphones, and must keep the app on all the time, as they move to different locations around Phuket.
  • All arrivals are required to stay in an accommodation establishment that is certified with the Amazing Thailand Safety and Health Administration (SHA) Plus certification for no less than 14 nights, and thereafter will be allowed to travel to visit other Thai destinations.
  • All COVID-19 tests must follow the guidelines by the MoPH.
  • Travellers are allowed to engage in any tourism activities but are advised to strictly follow the DMHTTA precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19: D -- Distancing, M -- Mask wearing, H -- Handwashing, T -- Temperature check, T -- Testing for COVID-19, and A -- contact tracing application (Thai Chana and Mor Chana).
Foreign Traveller Journey Pre-arrival

In order to be eligible to enter in Thailand, vaccinated international travellers -- and their children -- need to have all of their advance arrangements in good order for arrival and entry. These include:

  • A vaccine certificate to proof that they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 no less than 14 days, but no later than 1 year before the travel date with a vaccine registered with the MoPH or approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO);
  • A valid visa;
  • A Certificate of Entry (COE) issued by the Royal Thai Embassy or Consulate;
  • A COVID-19 health insurance policy with a minimum coverage of US$100,000;
  • A confirmation of an Alternative State Quarantine (ASQ) booking for 14 nights in a SHA Plus-certified accommodation establishment;
  • A medical certificate with an RT-PCR laboratory result indicating that COVID-19 is not detected issued no more than 72 hours before departure;
  • The duration of stay can be less than 14 days, but travellers must leave Phuket on or before the permit to stay date.
Arrival
  • Undergo Immigration and Customs procedures, and a COVID-19 screening, including RT-PCR tests;
  • Download the ThailandPlus application;
  • Check-in at the pre-booked SHA Plus-certified accommodation establishment and stay there for no less than 14 nights.
Stay
  • Undergo a COVID-19 test using an RT-PCR or a rapid antigen method on Day 5 of your arrival per the MoPH's guidelines;
  • Engage in tourism activities or enjoy services in SHA Plus-certified venues and businesses, under the DMHTTA precautions;
  • For emergency in case of having respiratory or other related symptoms, please alert the staff at your accommodation or contact the nearest hospital;
  • The operator/owner of the accommodation establishment is required to report the name list and status of all foreign guests to the provincial authority on a daily basis.
Departure
  • For travelling from Phuket to other Thai destinations, vaccinated international travellers are required to show a vaccine certificate and a medical certificate that they have tested negative for COVID-19;
  • For travelling from Phuket to other countries, travellers are advised to follow the guidelines and measures announced by the respective country of destination.
Relevant information
Child Policy Children under 6 years of age must travel only with their parents or guardians who have been vaccinated;

In the case the parents or guardians are found to have COVID-19, the children are to be placed in isolation for 14 days.
 

Countries The Phuket Sandbox is applicable only for fully vaccinated international travellers from countries/regions with a low to medium risk of SAR-CoV-2 virus as announced and constantly updated by the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH). *The list will be available soon.

High-risk countries are not allowed entry at this stage.
 

Visa & Certificate of Entry Every traveller must obtain a Certificate of Entry (COE) at https://coethailand.mfa.go.th/ . Check the website to see the required documents;

Embassy/Consulate-General takes 3 working days to process the application;

Applicants can check the result of the application on the website.
 

Insurance International travellers must have an insurance covering treatment and medical expenses in relation to COVID-19 with a minimum coverage of US$100,000. The insurance must cover the total duration of stay in Thailand.
 
Vaccines International travellers who have received the following vaccines are able to enter Phuket:
-- WHO approved vaccines ;
-- Vaccines approved by the government of each country;
-- Thai FDA approved vaccines (5): AstraZeneca, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, Sinovac Biotech, and Sinopharm.

Arrivals must be vaccinated more than 14 days to 1 year before entering Phuket. Proof of vaccination must be submitted when applying for a COE.
 

Airlines Airlines that have announced direct flights to Phuket:
-- THAI
-- Singapore Airlines
-- Emirates
-- Qatar Airways
-- Hongkong Airlines
-- EVA Air
-- Korean Air
-- Jinair
-- Cathay Pacific
-- KLM

Please check the flight schedule on the respective airline's websites.

Please be aware that some airlines are unable to operate into your home country for your return.
 

Before Arrival in Phuket You must get an RT-PCR COVID-19 test within 72 hours before arrival in Phuket and submit proof to the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs when obtaining your COE.
 
At the Airport You must download the Thailand Plus application.

At Immigration, you are required to complete your arrival card, show your COE and passport.
 

SHA & SHA Plus+ 'SHA' is a certification for businesses who meet the basic standards of hygiene and health safety for their products and services in accordance with the nationwide measures to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).

'SHA Plus' is a certification for companies/individuals who have received the SHA certificate AND 70% of the workforce has been vaccinated.

Here is the constantly updated list of SHA Plus businesses in Phuket .
 

While in Phuket You can go anywhere in Phuket, BUT you must strictly follow the DMHTTA precautions: D -- Distancing, M -- Mask wearing, H -- Handwashing, T -- Temperature check, T -- Testing for COVID-19, and A -- contact tracing application (Thai Chana and Mor Chana).

Masks must be worn at all times in public areas and if there are two or more people in a vehicle.
A COVID-19 rapid test is required on Day 5. *We will provide the answer as soon as we have more info.
Can a 2nd guest who is already resident in Thailand join a guest who has arrived 'internationally' into a 'SHA Plus' hotel?

 

Accommodation It is mandatory that you book a 'SHA Plus' hotel for the first 14 nights in Phuket;

Residing in a private residence is not allowed on the first 14 nights for COVID-19 control purposes unless the residence/condominium has a SHA Plus certificate;

Q. Must I book a consecutive stay in one place? A. You can move between SHA Plus hotels during the 14 days. *We will provide answers to the following questions as soon as we have more info.
Booking must be prepaid? or if proof of the booking will suffice?
Standardised Cancellation and refund policies for 'SHAPlus' accommodation for peace of mind agreed upon by all 'SHA Plus' hoteliers?

 

COVID-19 Test RT-PCR test.
Every hospital in Phuket can provide an RT-PCR test;
The cost of an RT-PCR covid test ranges from 2,500-4,000 Baht per person.

Rapid test.
You can get a rapid test from hospitals, clinics, and private labs in Phuket;
The cost of a rapid test ranges from 450-1,000 Baht per person.

COVID-19 testing is at the travellers' own expense.
 

Tours & Excursion We recommend that you only book an excursion with 'SHA Plus' certified companies for your safety;

On the first 5 days, you are allowed to visit only the islands of Phuket, which are Ko Racha, Ko Naka, Coral Island, and Ko Khai;

Ko Phi Phi, Ko Yao and Phang Nga Bay are NOT a part of Phuket province. Therefore, you must get a rapid test on Day 5 before going to these places.
 

Restaurants We recommend that you only use 'SHA Plus' certified restaurants for your safety, but you may dine-in at non-certified restaurants, too.
 
Taxi & Transportation We recommend that you use only 'SHA Plus' certified taxis and transportation, but you may use non 'SHA Plus', too if you prefer. If there are more than 2 people in a vehicle, masks must be worn at all times.
COVID-19 Infected If you experience any COVID-19 symptoms, you must immediately get a test.

If you travel in a group, everybody in the group must undergo a test.

In case you are tested positive for COVID-19 in Thailand, you will be responsible for the medical expenses which must be covered by your insurance.
 

Domestic Travel After spending 14 nights in Phuket and you are tested negative for COVID-19, you are free to go anywhere in Thailand but you must follow each province's restrictions.
 

 

Update: ...And Phuket will be in lockdown anyway!

11th June 2021. See article from forum.thaivisa.com

Patong Mayor Chalermsak Maneesri has confirmed that pubs, bars and other entertainment venues across Phuket will be closed for the July 1 reopening of the island to receiving vaccinated international tourists.

For the entertainment venues in Phuket, from a meeting of [Phuket] officials, they altogether agreed to keep the venues closed in the first period of July, as we had a cluster from that kind of venue.

Phuket Governor and the TAT Governor have not allowed them to open,

 

 

Hanging in there...

Thai immigration announces an extension to visas for those farangs unable to return home to covid


Link Here1st June 2021
The Thai Immigration Bureau has announced that foreigners who are still stranded in Thailand due to the COVID-19 situation can remain in the country until at least late September.

The deadline for people to apply for a so-called COVID extension has now been extended to July 29.

The extension costs 1,900 baht and is valid for 60 days from the day a person's current permit to stay ends or from the date of application.

This means that those applying for the extension could potentially stay in Thailand until the end of September.

Extensions are granted based on the applicant being unable to return home due to COVID-19, the lack of flights to their home country or that the applicant has a letter from their embassy requesting permission to remain in Thailand.

 

 

Island of Dreams...

Koh Samui details its July plans to allow a resumption of tourism under ludicrously onerous restrictions


Link Here24th May 2021
Thai media has reported that the holiday island of Koh Samui plans to open up to foreign tourists along similar lines to Phuket from July 1st.

Visitors must fly in direct and have been vaccinated with two doses of Covid-19 vaccine to qualify. They will then be tested with a swab or PCR test at the airport then go to their (expensive) quarantine hotel for three days.

After this they can do limited travel for the next three days according to the Samui Sealed Route Model. They will not be allowed to come into contact with local people.

After seven days foreign tourists will be allowed to go to the neighboring islands of Koh Tao and Koh Phangan.

The authorities and airlines now have to work out how this can happen when there are currently very few flights to Samui.

 

 

Welcome back...

Thai government says it will relax quarantine for visitors in October and restart scheduled flights in November


Link Here17th May 2021
Thailand plans to resume international flights by November, Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob said.

Saksayam said he asked the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) to coordinate with all relevant agencies, including the Airports of Thailand Plc, U-Tapao Airport Administration and Bangkok Airways  to prepare for the resumption of international flights later this year.

The resumption of international flights will nearly coincide with Thailand’s plan to waive its mandatory quarantine requirement for vaccinated tourists visiting its most popular destinations from October.

 

 

Jab or else!...

Buriram threatens to fine and jail people refusing covid vaccine


Link Here15th May 2021
The Isaan province of Buriram has become the first province in Thailand to mandate COVID-19 vaccination for all individuals aged 18 and older, with possible penalties as high as two years in prison and a maximum of 60,000 Baht for refusniks.

Buriram Governor Thatchakorn Hatthathayakul urged every individual, aged 18 or more, living or working in Buriram, to submit their COVID-19 risk assessment form and apply for vaccination through the publicly available channels by May 31st.

Failure to apply by May 31st is liable to one month in prison and/or a fine of 10,000 Baht.

 

 

Taxing times...

Travel to be more expensive after covid


Link Here11th May 2021
Thailand will collect 300 baht tourist fee from all international visitors arriving in the country from next January. Presumably it will be collected as  a ticket price surcharge rather than collecting cash on arrival. Travellers already similarly pay a 500 Baht tax on departure from Thailand.

Thailand's Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said the 300 baht fee will go towards creation of a tourism fund that will help the tourism industry deal with other unforeseen problems or hardships in the future. The original idea behind the fee was that any money generated would be used in the management of tourist attractions as well as helping to cover the medical bills of uninsured tourists.

Phiphat also spoke on plans to re-open the country to foreign tourists from July 1st. He said that cases would need to drop to zero in Phuket before the country could implement its Sandbox model of allowing fully vaccinated visitors in without requiring quarantine.

 

 

Jabbed down...

Farangs sent to the back of the queue for vaccination in Thailand


Link Here6th May 2021
Thai people will always be given priority for Covid-19 vaccines, the Ministry of Public Health said yesterday, denying reports that some expats living in the kingdom would also be allowed to register for free jabs.

The ministry said while the government wanted take care of everyone living here, it had no plans to give free vaccines to expats due to very limited vaccine stocks, so Thai people would be the first to get it.

The vaccines right now are only reserved for Thai people who are now at a high-risk level or living in the severe outbreak areas, said spokesman Rungrueng Kitphati.

On Monday, some expats announced on social media that they had successfully registered to get the vaccine via the Mor Prom Line application. However this does not mean that they would not get turned away at the appointment.

On Thursday the government changed stance a little and said that farangs could register for appointments under the same criteria as Thais. It was also said that the Moderna vaccine would be available privately at a price of 3000 Baht.

 

 

Thailand returns to unvisitable...

A return to the full 14 days quarantine for everyone


Link Here30th April 2021
After a bit of a covod outbreak in Thailand the government has announced a return to a full 14 day of hotel quarantine regardless of nationality or vaccination status.

For the moment the full 14 days will have to be spent in a hotel room and the extended period also requires the expense of a another test.

The longer quarantine period applies to all visitors from 1st May 2021.

 

 

Electric dreams...

Thailand aims for car sales to be all electric by 2035


Link Here24th April 2021
Thailand has announced a plan that all car sales should be electric by 2035.

Inevitably Thailand sees itself as being a 'hub' for the electric car market.

Right now in Thailand, less than 1% of the vehicles on the road are electric but an advisor to the Energy Ministry's national policy committee said that it's clear the world is heading that way and Thailand should grab hold of that market to help recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The plan to make Thailand an electric vehicle country by 2035 has benchmarks along the way. A previous target of 30% of all vehicles registered to be electric vehicles has been upgraded to 50% by the end of this decade.

The Electric Vehicle Association of Thailand pointed out that letting the transition occur naturally with the growing popularity of electric vehicles may take too long, and that the new target such is a good way to attract investors in these new technologies and manufacturing sectors.

 

 

Seeking the Holy Grail...

Thailand sets up a website to explain its impossibly onerous procedure for obtaining permission to travel to Thailand


Link Here22nd April 2021
To facilitate the process for travellers entering Thailand, tourism officials have launched a website as a one-stop-shop to make arrangements to travel to Thailand including booking a quarantine hotel, purchasing insurance and obtaining permission to enter Thailand.

The "Entry Thailand" website set up by the Tourism Authority of Thailand outlines 6 steps for international visitors planning to travel to Thailand including registering for a Certificate of Entry, booking a flight, arranging quarantine, purchasing the required Covid-19 insurance, checking on the status of the Certificate of Entry and requirements upon entering the country.

The quarantine period is 7 days for fully vaccinated visitors, 10 days for visitors from most countries but 14 days from African countries.

Steps for entering Thailand:

Step 1: Register for the Certificate of Entry, or COE. Pre-approval can take around 3 days.

Step 2: Book a flight on a repatriation flight or semi-commercial flight. Tickets must be purchased no more than 15 days after the COE is pre-approved.

Step 3: Arrange a stay at an Alternative State Quarantine (ASQ) hotel and submit the booking confirmation no more than 15 days after the COE is pre-approved.

Step 4: Purchase Covid-19 health insurance policy no more than 15 days after the COE is pre-approved. Submit proof of purchase. If the insurance policy is booked through "Entry Thailand," the system will automatically report the booking status.

Step 5: Check the COE status and prepare additional documents before travelling.

Step 6: Prepare documents required upon entering Thailand. Download the "Thailand Plus Application" and complete the Thailand Health Declaration, or T.8 Form.

 

 

Turning false positives into true positives...

Thailand deals with covid cases in the community by mandating that they are transferred to hospitals or field hospitals


Link Here21st April 2021
Thailand's Health Ministry says it may prosecute a number of Covid-19 patients who refused to be treated at field hospitals. It's understood the 74 patients, most of whom are from so-called hi so families in Bangkok, told officials that a stay in a field hospital would be inconvenient. Instead, deputy public health minister Sathit Pitutecha says the patients decided to stay at home, thereby violating the communicable disease law.

Every Covid-19 patient must be taken care of by medical personnel from the Ministry of Public Health at a ministry medical facility.

Sathit says the patients told officials they would only stay in private rooms in hospitals. He adds that it is vital that all infected people are hospitalised, as severe symptoms can develop at any time and patients need to be monitored by qualified medical workers.

All people who test positive for coranavirus are expected to be quarantined in medical facilities regardless severity of illness and even if symptomless.

 

 

3 days less for fully vaccinated visitors...

The official mandatory hotel quarantine rules starting from 1st April 2021.


Link Here2nd April 2021
quarantine hotel
 quarantine hotel 

Thailand has confirmed new mandatory quarantine requirements for foreigners wanting to enter Thailand. These procedures are signed off by the Thai prime minister and apply from 1st April 2021. They are expected to apply until being further relaxed in October 2021, though there may the opportunity to consider the whole of Phuket or Ko Samui as a quarantine hotel from July.

Quarantine is 7 days for tourists who have been fully vaccinated (two doses for most, but not for all makes of vaccine) 14 days prior to arriving in Thailand. There is also a rather worrying piece of small print suggesting that Thailand only considers vaccination to be valid for 3 months).

Quarantine is 10 days for those who have not been vaccinated or not received the full doses

Quarantine of 14 days remains for those coming from areas with virus mutations as designated by the Ministry of Public Health, seemingly just Africa for the moment.

The number of tests for seven day quarantiners is one only after 5-6 days, 10 day people must do two and 14 day folk must have three.

Note that the Thai providers will be vaccinating expats living in quarantine islands, presumably for free, but assuming that they are formally registered as resident on the islands.

 

 

Island quarantine...

Thai government reported to have agreed an idea to allow fully vaccinated tourists to have the freedom of Phuket for a week of island quarantine


Link Here27th March 2021
quarantine hotel
 quarantine hotel 

It has been reported that Thai authorities have agreed to allow foreigners fully inoculated against coronavirus to travel to Phuket and have the freedom of the island for presumably a week of quarantine.

The idea is contingent on about 70% of island residents being vaccinated before the scheme starts in July.

By October, the quarantine waiver scheme is expected to be extended to five holiday destinations, including Pattaya.

 

 

Updated: Distant hopes...

Thai Government seems to be set on slowly reducing quarantine requirements down to 1 day


Link Here19th March 2021
quarantine hotel
 quarantine hotel 

In advance of an imminent official announcement, Thai business media has been summarising its understanding of plans to gradually reduce quarantine requirements.

The business media said that D-Day for the start of what is known as Area Quarantine - part of what is now being called Open System - will be April 1st.

Vaccinated tourists will have to quarantine for 7 days from April to September if they have been given two doses of vaccine in their home countries. It's ten days for those not vaccinated.

Phase 1 - April and May: Tourists will be able to use fitness facilities in quarantine hotels, swim and go on cycle rides in the grounds. They can eat food delivered from outside the hotels.

Phase 2 - June to September: would involve the setting up of an exclusive travel area in which tourists could move around while doing Area Quarantine for 10 days. They would be restricted where they could move. The plan is to have Area Quarantine in Phuket, Pattaya, Krabi, Chiang Mai, Surat Thani (Khon Tao, Koh Samui and Koh Phangan), Phangnga and Bangkok.

Phase 3 October to December: For seven specified tourism provinces quarantine will be reduced to one day for vaccinated visitors with a swab test requirement to leave quarantine. Along with it will be an end to the Certificate of Entry document that will be replaced by a vaccine certificate.

Under the Open System tourists will be able to come for a stay of 45 days (up from the previous 30) or utilize Special Tourist Visas, Yacht Quarantine or Elite cards.

 

Update: Official update

19th March 2021. See article from forum.thaivisa.com

The most notable of the official announcement is that quarantine will be reduced from 14 days to 10 days from 1 April. It will then be reduced to 7 days later for vaccinated foreigners, before quarantine will be scrapped completely by 1 October for those who have received the vaccine. This date is provisional of the covid situation at the time.

 

 

Staying safe...

Thailand is set to maintain impossibly high walls to keep out tourists, even those that have been vaccinated


Link Here10th March 2021
 
After 12 months of forcing foreign travellers into a 14 day mandatory stay expensive hotels, at their expense, as part of the Alternative State Quarantine program, the Thai government has slightly relented about the length of quarantine.

From April, the Thai government is cutting the mandatory quarantine in half, from 14 to seven days, for any foreign travellers arriving in Thailand that have been vaccinated against the coronavirus. However the concession is mostly worthless as it only applies for 3 months after vaccination. In addition vaccinated travellers will still have to get tested before travel, produce onerous paperwork, and risk substantial losses should the paperwork get rejected.

The Thai government is also set to reduce quarantine to 10 days for unvaccinated travellers. However travellers from Africa will still have to quarantine for 14 days.

The government is set to confirm the changes after a meeting next week.

 

 

A little bit of a splash...

Pattaya is considering rules for covid safe water fighting


Link Here5th March 2021
The Thai Government has given permission for this year's Songkran Festival to go ahead.

Now Pattaya's mayor Sontaya Khunpluem has been speaking of what wil be allowed in Pattaya.

Sontaya was keen to play up the importance of spurring tourism and the economy now that the vaccination program has started.

He outlined the cultural activities that would go ahead including a ceremony to honor older people at Wat Chaimongkhol and Kong Khao rice giving ceremonies to honor the departed at Photina Klua and Wat Nong Yai. He said that all events will be subject to mask wearing, temperature and social distancing protocols.

He said that an organising committee and associated individuals were in charge and said that what form any water splashing would take remains to be decided.

 

 

Updated: Dangerous Thailand...

Thailand requires all foreigners to download its invasive snooping app to track their movements


Link Here1st March 2021
Foreigners seeking to enter Thailand require a document from their local Thai embassy called a Certificate Of Entry. The onerous process of obtaining this document now requires them to download and install an invasive snooping app called ThailandPlus prior to their arrival.

The app uses GPS to track movements and a Bluetooth proximity algorithm to detect contacts with covid carriers.

The whereabouts of all tourists with the app installed will be known throughout their stay and allow authorities to immediately round them up and no doubt incarcerate should they come in contact with a covid case. No doubt the facility will also be used for locating visa overstayers and the like.

 

Update: On at all times...even short times?

25th February 2021. See Government instructions from tatnews.org

After downloading the ThailandPlus application from the Google Play Store or Apple App Store, travellers are required to enable the GPS and accept the privacy policy. After that, a recent (not more than one month old) profile photo needs to be uploaded before inputting the COE number and reference ID obtained from the Royal Thai Embassy or Consulate-General. Once all data is verified as correct, the system will direct travellers to the QR code page where they can begin using @the application.

Travellers will need to keep the ThailandPlus application on all the time, as they move to different locations around the country. Businesses throughout Thailand prominently display QR codes that are required for check-in and check-out scanning. This includes all types of accommodation, restaurants, shopping centres, and tourism attractions, to mention just a few examples.

In the event that travellers are in close contact with any confirmed COVID-19 cases, they will be notified and offered 'recommendations'.

Update: Thailand salivates over using apps to control people's movements

1st March 2021. See article from forum.thaivisa.com

 The Thai government is inevitably keen on mandating vaccine passports for entry into Thailand but why stop there?

Thai news site, The Standard is debating whether such a document could be mandated to enter places where large numbers of people congregate in close proximity, (or no doubt where a couple of people congregate in very close proximity).

That would mean the entertainment industry and sporting events as The Standard pointed out. So it might be necessary to hold a document to go to a pub, beer bar or disco in the future.

The article did not say that this was yet being mulled in Thailand but it appears that all suggestions are currently on the table.

The Standard noted that Israel has already issued a Green Pass that is a kind of vaccine passport (VP) that appears to be for internal use.

 

 

Get in line...

Thailand includes expats in its coronavirus vaccination program


Link Here18th February 2021
Thailand has committed to give everyone in the country - including expats and migrant workers - vaccinations against COVID-19.

Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) deputy spokesperson Apisamai Srirangsan said that everyone living in Thailand, including foreigners, will be able to receive the vaccine.

Thailand will receive its first batch of vaccines on February 24, with those deemed to be most at risk the first to be inoculated. People working in the tourism or service sectors or those that are likely to come in contact with foreign tourists would be vaccinated in phase 2 from May. Expats and foreign workers are likely to be vaccinated in phase 3 from June.

Dr Apisamai also said that the private sector will be able to procure its own vaccines, providing the vaccines have approval from the regulatory authorities.

 

 

A week is a long time in quarantine...

Thailand considers increasing quarantine to 3 weeks for visitors from Africa


Link Here15th February 2021
Thailand is considering increasing the length of time some travellers will be required to spend in quarantine, the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) has announced.

According to CCSA spokesperson, Dr Apisamai Srirangsan, the proposal is to help limit the spread of the more contagious South African strain of the coronavirus. On Sunday, Thailand reported its first case of the South African strain, confirmed in a Thai national who had recently entered quarantine having travelled back from Tanzania.

The proposed increase in quarantine will initially apply to people travelling to Thailand from Africa, but could also be applied to other travellers from elsewhere.

 

 

Green Park...

A large new park will be opened in central Bangkok


Link Here6th February 2021
A forest is coming to downtown Bangkok with the opening of the Suan Pa Benjakitti park. This will be known as the Benjakitti Forest Park in English.

It is being constructed on 259 rai of land in Klong Toei district off Rama IV road on land that was formerly owned by the Thai Tobacco Monopoly.

It is set to be complete next year and will include such features as a 1.5 kilometer elevated walkway, canals, ponds, areas for sports and a bicycle track that will connect to Lumpini Park.

 

 

But maybe 90% safe is not safe enough...

Thailand considers allowing vaccinated foreign visitors without the need for quarantine


Link Here27th January 2021
Foreigners who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 could be allowed to visit Thailand without the need to quarantine, according to new proposals from the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).

TAT says so-called vaccine passports are one of a number of ideas mooted by TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn in a bid to revive the country's decimated tourism industry.

Supasorn said under the proposals, vaccinated tourists from the United States and Europe could start arriving in Thailand as early as March or April, with a focus on what would be the Easter holidays in Europe. Tourists from China, Japan and South Korea would arrive later once restrictions on all but necessary travel had been lifted by the governments in those countries.

 

 

Heading for a happy ending...

Massage shops re-open in easing of lockdown


Link Here24th January 2021

Bangkok council has announced the coronavirus cases had dropped to around 10 cases daily.  So now the council has announced that 13 businesses can reopen as usual, but still with virus-control measures, Perhaps of most interest are:

  • Internet cafes
  • Stadiums can open but no spectators allowed
  • Beauty parlours and tattoo shops
  • Fitness centres
  • Massage shops and spas -- but not massage parlours
  • Bowling alleys and skating rinks

 

 

A testing red tape extension...

Thailand adds the requirement for a covid test before obtaining an extension of stay


Link Here17th January 2021
Expats in Thailand may soon be required to take a COVID-19 test in order to extend their extensions of stay.

Posting on Twitter, popular travel blogger Richard Barrows shared a document published in the Royal Gazette that said foreigners are required to take a COVID-19 not only to visit Thailand but also extend their stay.

This document was published in the Royal Gazette on 25th December. It will become law 30 days later. So on 25th January.

The details of how Immigration will implement this rule change are not yet clear. There are other diseases on the list of medical test requirements and it varies whether these are required on not.

 

 

Offsite Article: Thailand Sold Itself as a Paradise Covid Retreat...


Link Here16th January 2021
No One Came

See article from bloomberg.com

 

 

Tracked to jail...

Thai government clarifies threat of jail for not using its covid surveillance app MorChana


Link Here9th January 2021
Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) spokesman Taweesin Visanuyothin has apologised on for sparking public uproar with his threat of prison for people who conceal their travel information.

Netizens vented anger after Taweesin announced that people might be jailed for not installing the MorChana contact-tracing app on their phones. Social media users pointed out that many people don't have smartphones capable of running apps.

Taweesin responded by apologising for the confusion on his personal Facebook. He clarified that the legal penalty only applied to Covid-positive individuals in the 28 red provinces who have no records of travel, including on the MorChana app. The penalty -- up to two years in jail and/or a maximum fine of Bt40,000 -- would be strictly applied in the five locked down provinces of Samut Sakhon, Chon Buri, Rayong, Chanthaburi and Trat, he said.

The MorChana app identifies the Covid status of users according to four colour codes -- from green for low risk to red for high risk -- and tracks their location.


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