Thailand will delay reopening Chiang Mai for tourism because of record-breaking cases of COVID-19 in the country.
The Thai authorities were due to open Chiang Mai for tourism in August or September, but cases of COVID-19 have spiraled since the summer began.
Thailand started its sandbox scheme in Phuket and Koh Samui in July, and Thailand is set to expand the sandbox scheme to the following islands:
- Koh Phi Phi
- Koh Ngai
- Railay in Krabi
- Khao Lak
- Koh Yao
- Surat Thani
These islands will be on top of the three main islands — Koh Samui, Koh Tao, and Koh Phangan.
The Chiang Mai Reopening
The deputy governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand stated yesterday that the scheduled “Charming Chiang Mai” will be delayed until October at the earliest. The scheme was supposed to reopen various areas in and around Chiang Mai, such as Mae Rim, Mae Tang, and Doi Tao.
However, authorities have claimed that they are too far behind on their vaccination program to safely reopen to tourists. Officials suggest Chiang Mai needs to achieve a vaccination rate of between 70 to 80 percent before reopening.
According to reports, the Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration will declare a deadline for Chiang’s Mai’s governor to complete the final 20 percent of preparations before reopening later in the year.
The local authorities intend to open the Charming Chiang Mai scheme differently from Koh Samui and Koh Phangan’s sandbox schemes. They plan to reopen Chiang Mai to tourists instead of expats and returning Thai nationals.
The reopening will include nine different styles of travel packages that will last between 4 days and three nights, and various tour companies will run these packages. Local authorities believe these tours will keep the sealed routes safe from COVID-19.
In addition, due to rising cases of the Delta variant, Pattaya is suffering from similar delays to its reopening scheme.
The Current COVID-19 Situation In Thailand
Thailand is looking to reopen its borders as quickly as possible because of the nation’s reliance on its travel sector. That said, the Delta variant has scuppered the Thai government’s plans to fully reopen to vaccinated tourists by October.
Thailand initially kept the COVID-19 pandemic out of the country for most of 2020, despite being the first country outside China to detect a positive case.
Thailand has recorded over 1 million cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began. As a result, there have been 9,320 deaths, and most of those deaths were in 2021.
Thailand is now recording around 20,000 cases of COVID-19 per day, and areas of the country are in and out of lockdown continually. Unfortunately, Thailand expects to record up to 40,000 infections next month according to reports.
Thailand’s vaccination rollout is hampering the country from fully reopening its borders and removing the sandbox schemes, which are confusing at the best of times.
The country has given 25,818,666 vaccinations, and Thailand has only fully vaccinated 18.5 percent of the population.
Unfortunately, it seems that restrictions are going to continue until Thailand has vaccinated 70-80 percent of its population as the Delta variant rips through the country. At the current rate of vaccinations, Thailand won’t hit that target until next year.
Thailand is one of the world’s most popular travel destinations, but like the rest of the world, the Delta variant is preventing the country from getting back to normal.
Hopefully, Thailand speeds up its vaccination rollout and we can enjoy a restriction-free Thailand sometime soon.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com