Bangkok can only reopen with fewer new COVID infections, cases in hospital, 70%+ vaccination

A fish vendor pushes her cart in the Chinatown area of Bangkok on May 28, 2021. (Photo by Jack TAYLOR / AFP)

With uncertainties over whether Bangkok will reopen to foreign tourists anytime soon, the city’s Governor has revealed guidelines for reopening safely.

Bangkok Governor Aswin Kwanmuang revealed yesterday (Monday) three key prerequisites for the city’s safe reopening to foreign tourists.

They are:

  • At least 70% of the city’s population must be fully vaccinated with two doses by October 22nd and wait for another week to two weeks for the immunity levels to increase as suggested by medics.
  • The number of new COVID-19 cases must decrease, as 2,700-2,800 new cases are currently being found each day.
  • The number of new cases in hospitals must decrease.

Governor Aswin also stated that the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) will discuss with the Public Health and Tourism and Sports ministries whether Bangkok meets these requirements, which will be proposed to the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) for further consideration.

Yesterday, CCSA Assistant Spokesperson Dr. Apisamai Srirangsan announced that there has yet to be a date set for Bangkok’s reopening.

Last week, Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn announced that Thailand’s capital will reopen to foreign arrivals on October 15th, following a discussion with Pol Gen Aswin. The Bangkok governor, however, denied that he had agreed to the date and insisted that the BMA will set the date itself.

So far, only the southern provinces of Phuket, Surat Thani, Krabi and Phang-nga, are welcoming international arrivals without quarantine. Chon Buri, Chiang Mai, Phetchaburi and Prachuap Khiri Khan are scheduled to reopen on October 1st, pending the CCSA’s approval.

Some medical experts have also advised delaying reopening plans until the public health system is better prepared and more people are vaccinated.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Thira Woratanarat of Chulalongkorn University posted on his Facebook page yesterday saying four factors are required before reopening, namely to be able to bring the pandemic under control with no more than around 1,000 cases a day or fewer, at least 200,000 quality and free RT-PCR tests conducted per day, sufficient acquisition of high-efficacy vaccines, endorsed internationally, for everyone in the country and a safety-conscious lifestyle becoming the norm.

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