Phuket Starts Mass Vaccine Rollout As Island Reopens To Foreign Tourists

Phuket Airport Reopens

Phuket residents are receiving COVID-19 jabs during the province’s first vaccination campaign that aims to inoculate 50,000 people in 7-10 days while the resort island has eased regulations to welcome foreign visitors.

Since yesterday, Thailand has allowed foreign travellers who have already been vaccinated against COVID-19 and tested negative for the virus to visit Phuket and five other tourism provinces, namely Krabi, Phangnga, Surat Thani (Koh Samui), Chon Buri (Pattaya) and Chiang Mai with a reduction in the mandatory isolation period from 14 days to seven days.

In July, Phuket will be the first province to waive the quarantine requirement for vaccinated foreign visitors who have been vaccinated, as part of the government’s plan to reopen the country.

In Phuket yesterday, a huge throng of people in priority groups travelled to a 4,000-seat gymnasium in Saphan Hin to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

Over 3,000 people are expected to be vaccinated there each day. Many people in Phuket backed COVID-19 vaccinations, saying it would give them peace of mind if the province had to reopen to foreign tourists.

Chief of the provincial public health department Kusak Kukiatkul said 100,000 doses were allocated to Phuket, up from 16,000 doses, after the province was allowed to reopen on 1st July. Phuket has received 50,000 doses and the rest will arrive after the Songkran festival.

Phuket has set a target to inoculate 6,000-7,000 people each day at five locations: Phuket Airport, Angsana Hotel, Jungceylon Shopping Center in Patong, Saphan Hin gymnasium and Orchid Resort & Spa in Karon.

From May to June, the vaccine will be administered at four more spots. The province must inoculate at least 70% of its population or 460,000 people to create herd immunity. Around 920,000–930,000 doses are needed to achieve such a goal.

Director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand Phuket Office, Nanthasiri Ronnasiri, said the government had chosen Phuket to be the first area to reopen to foreign tourists due to its capacity to handle airlines, medical readiness and cooperation between the private and public sector.

Thai Airways International will operate an all-business-class direct flight from Frankfurt to Phuket tomorrow.