Koh Samui’s Sandbox scheme on July 15th is set to go ahead despite a surge in cases in Thailand.
On July 1st, Thailand reopened the island of Phuket to vaccinated travelers. The opening was the first step in repairing Thailand’s battered travel industry. However, Thailand has plans to reopen Koh Samui, Koh Tao, and Koh Phangan on July 15th in the second sandbox scheme.
Cases have skyrocketed in Thailand recently, bringing Thailand’s reopening into jeopardy. Bangkok has gone into lockdown, and cases of COVID-19 are at an all-time high. Still, the country plans to reopen more islands in a bid to save the economy.
The Entry Requirements
Many people love Thailand because of its relaxed nature, but the current restrictions are anything but relaxed. Here are the entry requirements for the Koh Samui Sandbox Scheme starting from June 15th:
- Travelers should avoid crowded areas in the 14 days before their arrival in Thailand (although they won’t check this)
- Travelers need to arrive from an approved list of countries set by the CCSA, and travelers must have been in the approved country for more than 21 days before flying to Thailand.
- All travelers will need a Certificate of Entry (COE)
- An official PCR test certificate with a negative within 72 hours before arrival
- Travelers will need an insurance certificate showing healthcare expenses and treatment expenses for COVD-19, with coverage up to $100,000
- If travelers are staying for less than 14 days, they will need evidence of an exit flight out of Koh Samui
- Travelers will also need proof of vaccination from WHO-approved vaccinations, and you’ll need your final vaccination at least 14 days before arriving in Thailand
- Travelers under 18 will need a PCR test
The Restrictions Upon Arrival
So, once you’ve landed, you’re probably ready to enjoy those gorgeous Koh Samui beaches? Not quite, here are the travel restrictions on arrival:
- All travelers are subject to health screening upon arrival
- Travelers will also need to download a health app on their phone for their entire stay
- Travelers will then undergo a PCR test (at their own expense)
- On day 6 or 7, travelers will need to take another PCR test
- Travelers staying for 10-14 days will need to take another PCR test on day 12 or 14 (yes, that’s four PCR tests in total)
If the tests come back negative, travelers are free to go anywhere on the island that’s under the designated pilot destinations. Therefore, some places are likely to be off-limits. Travelers can travel around the country after 14 days in Koh Samui, Koh Tao, and Koh Phangan.
The Current COVD-19 Situation In Thailand
Thailand is suffering from its worst outbreak of COVID-19 since the pandemic began. There have been 86 COVID deaths, including 9,539 cases. As a result, Bangkok has gone into lockdown, and the Thai government is in a race against the Delta Variant strain.
The country has given over 10,777,748 first vaccination doses, with 3.5 million full vaccinations. Nonetheless, this falls far short of the required number of vaccinations to halt the spread of the virus. In addition, Thailand has a population of almost 70 million, leaving many older adults vulnerable to the Delta Variant.
The Future Of Travel In Thailand
Thailand had a target of reopening the nation within 4 months. However, the current state of COVID-19 means this looks less and less likely. Although the Phuket sandbox scheme has begun and the Koh Samui sandbox scheme will begin in days – the nation is far from opening the border.
As Southeast Asia – who kept cases extremely low during 2020 – begins to struggle with the new variants, it seems like travel could be way off. Even if you decide to visit the sandbox schemes, you’re faced with countless restrictions, four PCR tests, and complete uncertainty. For many people, it’s just not worth the hassle.
Although Thailand is trying to save its battered travel industry, it looks like normal travel is a long way off.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories