When the Phuket Sandbox first kicked off on July 1st, island authorities announced if Covid-19 cases rose to more than 90 a week on Phuket the program would be shut down.
Now, with at least 125 Covid-19 cases on Phuket in the last seven days, will the Phuket Sandbox be canceled as Covid-19 cases rise on the Thai island?
According to Phuket’s Governor Narong Woonciew yesterday“the numbers are not a factor to discontinue the Sandbox”.
This after it was first announced at the end of June that numbers over 90 a week would mean a mandated shutdown of the Sandbox.
Meanwhile, new restrictions have been put into place on Phuket in an effort to halt rising cases. These include the mandatory closing of Central department stores, the banning of gatherings of more than 100 people and all football fields being closed.
Phuket schools are also to remain closed until at least August 16th.
What does this mean for tourists planning to visit Phuket via the Sandbox?
The problems for tourists planning to visit Thailand via the Phuket Sandbox, however, are manifold.
First, Phuket authorities can state the Phuket Sandbox is still open and then quickly shut it down a day or two later. This type of backtracking has happened consistently all over Thailand during the Covid-19 panic.
If this does happen, those who are booked to visit Phuket via the Phuket Sandbox would then not be able to travel. Whether all the money they have spent on the trip will then be returned is still open to debate. (article continues after promo…)
For those who are on the island if the Phuket Sandbox is shut down, that likely means mandatory quarantine on their hotel grounds until their holiday period is over. They will then be transported to the airport for a flight home.
70% of Phuket has been vaccinated against Covid, however, compared to only 5% of the general Thai population.
That could mean those who do contract Covid only contract a mild form, although scientists are not sure if this will be the case as the data being collected has not been analyzed for a sufficient enough period to come to that conclusion.
It could also mean it will be more difficult for Covid-19 to be transmitted by those who are vaccinated although, again, this has not been scientifically proven as yet.
If either of these circumstances prove to be true, it could mean the Phuket Sandbox is allowed to remain open. Or, it could not.
Meanwhile, President of the Tourism Council of Phuket, Thaneth Tantipiriyakij, says access to local activities on Phuket is now being reduced, and more restrictions are likely to be implemented as Covid-19 cases in Phuket rise.
This, he insists, will be done to save the Sandbox program, so that those who are booked to travel via it can still visit Phuket.
The question then becomes, with increased restrictions and the possibility of the Phuket Sandbox being closed completely, will they want to?