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Phuket Sandbox will launch on July 1

Sun seekers on Kata Beach, Phuket.

Thailand’s much anticipated Phuket Sandbox reopening pilot programme will be going ahead this week, the government has confirmed.

From July 1, fully vaccinated holidaymakers will finally be permitted to visit the popular Thai island without needing to quarantine.

It’s hoped the sandbox programme will put Phuket firmly back on the map as a holiday destination. The tourism-reliant island has been decimated by the pandemic; the Thai government estimates that Thailand as a whole lost an estimated US$3 billion-plus in tourism income in the first quarter of 2020 alone, along with 1.45 million jobs.

The sandbox scheme will welcome vaccinated tourists with no minimum stay requirement, but they will be required to remain on Phuket for at least the first 14 days if their holiday is longer than two weeks. They will then be free to travel onwards anywhere in the country.

Visitors must come from a low to medium risk country, as designated by the Thai government, and they must have stayed in these countries for at least 21 days before the date of travel. Both Singapore and Hong Kong are currently listed as low risk regions.

Travellers must also be fully vaccinated, meaning they must have received their final jab at least 14 days before departure, and they must also have a vaccine certificate to prove this. Children under the age of six are exempt if travelling with fully vaccinated parents or guardians. Unvaccinated children aged six to 18 years must undergo a Rapid Antigen Test on arrival at the traveller's expense.

Further paperwork includes a negative PCR test taken no more than 72 hours before travel and a Covid-19 health insurance policy with a minimum US$100,000 cover.

Proof of accommodation must also be provided and the property must be SHA (Amazing Thailand Safety and Health Administration) certified.

Once these documents have been pulled together, travellers can apply for a Certificate of Entry online.

On arrival, there will be a further Covid PCR test and holidaymakers must wait for the result at their pre-booked, SHA certified hotel. They must also download the ThailandPlus alert app.

More testing will be required during the stay, including on day six or seven and on day 12 or 13. Visitors travelling onwards after 14 days must undergo another PCR test.

Transit through Bangkok or any other Thai city is prohibited, travellers must arrive in Phuket from an international departure point and if staying fewer than 14 days in Phuket, must fly out of Phuket to an international destination.

Airlines currently flying to Phuket directly or via connecting routes include Emirates, Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways, British Airways and Singapore Airlines. If you’re travelling from Hong Kong, Thai Airways will be restarting direct flights from Chek Lap Kok to Phuket from July 2.

From July 15, it’s anticipated that the same sandbox model will be rolled out for Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao.

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