There are more updates in regards to the Phuket Sandbox reopening plan of Thailand that is supposed to start on July 1st as newly amended rules now say that no bars and entertainment venues would be open on the island.
The entire plan has still not been approved by the Prime Minister and Cabinet which will meet next week at the earliest and even if it gets the nod it still has to be published in the Royal Gazette before becoming law.
Until then embassies and consulates worldwide will not be able to issue a Certificate of Entry under the Sandbox model which has a range of specific restrictions that seem to change every three days.
From the looks of it the purpose of all the restrictions is to make the entire system as unattractive as possible so very few people will even consider coming, giving it a slow start and seeing how it goes without causing too much collateral damage in the process.
You can access the TAT Press release about the most recent regulation updates here.
These are the requirements for travelers who wish to engage in the Sandbox trip:
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 booking for 14 nights in a SHA Plus-certified accommodation; -> PREPAID
- 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 nights, but travellers must leave Phuket on or before the permit to stay date.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Does this sound like a holiday to you? Because to me it resembles more of a procedure to get booked and released from county jail.
There are plenty of other holiday destinations that offer a real relaxing experience without all the hassle, red tape and expenses involved.
Meanwhile Patong Mayor Chalermsak Maneesri has confirmed to The Phuket News 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,” Mayor Chalermsak told The Phuket News earlier today (June 10). …
“For entertainment venues, from the meeting with Phuket Governor and TAT Governor, the venues will remain closed for the first period of Phuket Sandbox because recently there has been a cluster from those types of establishments,” he confirmed.
So what will there be left in Phuket for tourists who come over? I haven’t seen a definitive word on the opening of spa’s either.
Coming under currently set conditions to Phuket would mean a minimum of four PCR tests including the one you need before even boarding your flight. More if you wish to continue traveling to the mainland and if your home country requires additional tests upon return which could very well be considering Thailand has been move to an elevated thread level following the recent outbreaks.
I can’t help but think that all this is by design. It’s becoming more and more unlikely that any tourists will arrive by July 1 under this model given the timeline and that it hasn’t even been agreed to by the cabinet, the PM and published in the Royal Gazette which is the basis for all decisions in Thailand to become law.
Before this happens the Ministry of Foreign Affairs can’t publish any internal guidelines or send instructions to their embassies and consulates to issue COE’s / visas to people.
Just last week they moved goalposts for the Phuket arrivals, mandating at least two weeks on the island at prepaid accommodations:
The most recent news were also that the TAT has quietly postponed the Golf Quarantine model “until the Covid situation improves”.
More restrictions are being imposed on the Sandbox model, making it increasingly unattractive for foreign tourists to undertake a trip to Thailand under these conditions. I couldn’t think of anyone who’d love to come and take all of these conditions except for people who live in Thailand and would do the two weeks Hotel Sandbox rather than booking an expensive ASQ Hotel (prison) in Bangkok.
It’s highly possible that the authorities are throwing as many roadblocks in the way to deter people from actually making a go in the early weeks / months so they can avoid cancelling the entire project altogether and face another humiliation as their previous 15+ reopening plans didn’t pan out.