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Phuket stepping up its rules again for sandbox

On Tuesday, Phuket stepped up preparations for the launch of its “Sandbox” scheme on 1st July.

The popular tourist province began rehearsing immigration and COVID-19 control measures to be implemented at its international airport, three seaports and security checkpoints on the road leading to the island.

COVID-19 screening measures will be in place for all foreign tourists arriving under the “Phuket Sandbox” programme, while security checkpoints on the road connecting it with the mainland will screen all those leaving Phuket and Thais arriving.

Foreigners from countries with a low or medium risk of COVID-19 transmission must produce a certificate of entry (COE) before boarding their plane. They will be further required to undergo an immediate COVID-19 test on arrival before being transferred to their pre-booked hotel, said Phichet Panaphong, a deputy provincial governor.

A second test will be given on day 6 and a third one on day 13 before those who test negative are allowed to travel to the rest of the country.

The foreigners must also submit proof of having bought a COVID-19 health insurance policy of at least US$100,000, hotel booking documents and a negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) COVID-19 test carried out within 72 hours before travelling.

About 129,000 foreigners are expected to visit Phuket under the Sandbox programme, which is projected to generate about 11.4 billion baht in income, said Mr Panaphong.

While staying in Phuket during the mandatory 14-day period, their precise locations will be tracked via the global positioning system (GPS) feature on an English version of Mor Chana, as well as a location-tracking wristband.

Facial recognition security cameras will be installed to detect any tourists who try to leave Phuket before completing the mandatory 14-day stay.

Punishments are being prepared for any foreigners who break the rules and anyone who tries to help them.

In Surat Thani, a group of about 180 local tourism business operators and officials on Tuesday took part in a brainstorming session on the province’s plan to adopt a similar tourism sandbox programme from August.

Ramluek Atsawachin, president of Koh Tao’s tourism business association, said the scheme would apply to Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao.

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