Significant Changes Will Come Into Affect For The Phuket Sandbox From Oct 01st
The much heralded Phuket Sandbox scheme did bring in some extra income for Phuket’s beleaguered tourism sector but it was nowhere near enough. Changes had to be made and from October 01st we will see some easing of restrictions. We’re still not where we want to be but none the less the changes are welcome and we hope it will boost the appeal for a holiday and diving in Phuket. The changes for the Phuket Sandbox were officially published in the Royal on October 01st so there’s no going back….probably.
New Domestic Traveller Requirements
For Thai Nationals or expats to enter Phuket from air land or sea, you will have to be vaccinated as follows:
- Sinopharm 2 doses
- Sinovac 2 doses
- Sputnik V 2 doses
- Sinovac 1st dose + Astrazeneca 2nd dose
- Johnson & Johnson 1 dose
- Astrazeneca 1 dose
- Pfizer 1 dose
- Moderna 1 dose
All of the doses must have been administered 2 weeks prior to entry. If you’re not vaccinated but have fully recovered from Covid-19 in the last 6 months, you’ll also be allowed to enter.
A negative RT-PCR test or Antigen test confirmed by a hospital or laboratory is also required. The test must have been taken no more than 7 days before entry.
If you’re a Phuket resident and entering by land or sea, you may bring your own Antigen Test Kit and show results to officials before entry.
Changes For Phuket Sandbox Guests
Below are the requirements for international holiday makers entering Phuket. Changes are in bold letters:
- Proof of full vaccination with a WHO approved vaccine. You must have been fully vaccinated no longer than one year or no less than 2 weeks before departure.
- Negative COVID-19 RT-PCR test taken within 72hrs of departure
- Proof of booked PCR tests (now only two required) with your hotel
- Proof of booking for 7 nights or the duration of your stay in Phuket if less than 7 nights at a SHA+ approved hotel in Phuket
- Health insurance that specifically covers – COVID-19 (minimum coverage US$ 100,000)
Families traveling with unvaccinated children are now required to quarantine for 10 days, less than the previous 14. This certainly applies for the rest of Thailand but we’re not 100% sure if that’s one of the Phuket Sandbox changes.
Bonus For Phuket
The rest of Thailand is still under a nonsensical alcohol ban in public places but Phuket has been given a reprieve. Restaurants are once again allowed to serve alcohol up to 10pm. You can now enjoy a sunset cocktail, a cold beer or an overpriced glass of wine with your meal.
On the downside, fish fighting arena’s are still closed, no crowds are allowed at cockfighting venues and chicken courts will remain closed. Hopefully not too many will cancel their holiday on the strength of that…
Will This Have An Effect On Scuba Diving
Not really, Sandbox guests can still visit the Racha Islands in their first week. The Phi Phi and King Cruiser trip won’t be possible until you’ve completed seven days quarantine. Domestic arrivals are free to join any trip from day one.
If you’re planning a Similan Island liveaboard then you can arrive at Phuket International airport but must drive directly to Khao Lak. From your hotel in Khao Lak, you’re free to join a liveaboard safari. So don’t book a Phuket in hotel if you plan to dive in the Similan Islands.
Is It Enough?
Not by a long shot but it is what it is. We’d like the RT-PCR test on arrival to be the only one required and divers allowed to go to Phi Phi or King from day one. We don’t set foot on any islands so there’s no reason to not let sandbox guests go.
The ridiculous rule of putting tourists into quarantine just because they’ve been close to somebody who tested positive needs to stop immediately. Not only is it overkill but insurance won’t pay for your quarantine unless you test positive. Travelers have been put straight into quarantine because somebody sitting within two rows on their inbound flight tested positive. To date not one of these so called at risk individuals have tested positive.
Still, it’s another step in the right direction and all of us here are hoping that more desperately needed tourists will soon be walking on our beaches.
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