PHUKET, 2 August 2021: Phuket will lock down all but essential cargo and medical supply transport between the island and the rest of the country from 3 to 16 August, according to a Phuket provincial order issued last Friday.
It stops all domestic travel to and from the island by all means of transport, although domestic flights have been shut down between Phuket and all the 13 deep red provinces that includes the capital Bangkok much earlier.
The Phuket Sandbox has been relatively successful, with just 30 positive Covid-19 cases out of the 13,281 fully vaccinated and negative tested foreigners who visited the southern island. However, local cases are increasing beyond the original ceiling that would have sounded the alarm to review the sandbox project.
Thailand reported 18,919 new cases on Saturday, mainly the Delta variant and new local cases have been detected in Phuket in the last week that, if it goes unchecked, would jeopardise efforts to reopen tourism.
“Phuket needs to come up with measures that aim to reduce and restrict movements to contain the spread within the limit and level that public health systems can accommodate,” read the official announcement according to the News Bureau of Thailand.
The order bars domestic arrivals from land, sea, and air with the exception of ambulances, rescue vehicles, transports of medicines and medical supplies, transports of consumer goods, agricultural produce, livestock, fuel and gas, banks’ cash, parcels and printed materials, international air departures, officials working to bring the pandemic under control and those with urgent assignments.
However, the “Phuket Sandbox” project, launched 1 July, allows fully vaccinated and Covid-19 negative international visitors to stay on the island for a 15-day quarantine stay before they are free to travel elsewhere in the country will not be impacted, or so the official statement reads. But it certainly restricts travel options for Phuket Sandbox travellers who have stayed on the island Covid-19 free and planned to travel elsewhere in the country. Plane or bus options from Phuket to visit other destinations in Thailand are suspended. Airline services had already stopped from Phuket to the 13 deep red provinces that include Bangkok on 21 July and remain grounded.
Also, the planned Phuket Extension programme that allows visitors to Phuket to travel to Surat Thani, Krabi and Phang Nga after a minimum of seven days in Phuket will be postponed to 15 August at the earliest due to the increase in Delta variant cases. Special sealed route flights from Phuket to Samui have also stopped for the time being.