The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) has no plans to reopen to foreign tourists on 15th October and it will not be up for talks until more than 70% of residents are fully vaccinated, says Bangkok governor Aswin Kwanmuang.
Pol Gen Kwanmuang denied speculation that the capital will reopen for foreign tourists and activities on 15th October, insisting he never said Bangkok will reopen on that date because health safety is a top priority.
He said that the focus is to speed up the inoculation of the city’s residents and talk about reopening can be initiated after more than 70% of the population get their second shot of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Any other people who talked about the Bangkok reopening have no authority. You have to ask me. We’ll reopen when it’s safe. If a new outbreak erupts, we’ll be back to square one. There is no pressure. I’m a heavy man. They can’t do that,” he said.
Speculation about the reopening in the middle of October stems from Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s statement made on 16th June that his government will reopen the country within 120 days which falls in the middle of October.
On the progress of the vaccination campaign, the governor said that under the timeline the city should reach the target of 70% on 22nd October but it could be as early as 10th October if vaccines are delivered sooner.
Currently, the interval between two shots of the AstraZeneca vaccine has been cut to six weeks.
Meanwhile, the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) said on Friday no decision has been made on a reopening plan for Bangkok and the issue must be discussed and planned thoroughly by several concerned parties.
Assistant CCSA spokeswoman Dr Apisamai Srirangson said there are three main criteria when considering the tourism reopening programme — preparedness, disease control measures and a COVID-19 response plan for cluster infections.
She also said the 14-day mandatory quarantine at alternative quarantine facilities for arrivals outside the sandbox areas remains unchanged when asked about a possible shortened quarantine.
However, people entering the country may be allowed to quarantine at Safety and Health Administration (SHA) hotels, she noted.
According to Dr Srirangson, by the end of October, at least 50% of people in every province need to be vaccinated while the vaccination target in the districts selected for reopening under the “COVID-free setting” approach is set at 80%.
Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul allayed concerns about the reopening of Bangkok, saying no decision was made.
He said the issue would have to be considered by the BMA’s communicable disease panel first.
Mr Charnvirakul also said the date of the country’s reopening was not considered either and that several factors would have to be taken into account.
When asked about further relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions in October, he said the Department of Disease Control would assess the situation and make recommendations.