23 May 2024

Bangkok will postpone its reopening to fully vaccinated and COVID-negative visitors from abroad, scheduled for October 1st, to October 15th, as the authorities want at least 70% of the city’s population vaccinated first, which is expected to be by mid-October, said Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said yesterday (Wednesday).

He explained that, after a discussion with Bangkok Governor Aswin Kwanmuang, the capital is ready to welcome foreign tourists, but it is waiting for more people to be fully vaccinated. Only about 37% of Bangkok’s population has received two doses to date.

The plan to reopen the provinces of Prachuap Khiri Khan, Phetchaburi, Chiang Mai and Chonburi on October 1st will, however, go ahead, Mr. Phiphat said, pending the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) and cabinet approvals. Popular beach towns of Pattaya and Hua Hin are in Chonburi and Prachuap Khiri Khan respectively.

People in all of Bangkok’s districts are expected to receive both doses by early October, said Mr. Phiphat. So far, 2.8 million people in Bangkok have been fully inoculated. Therefore, at least 2.52 million more people in Bangkok need to be vaccinated to reach the target of 70% of the population aged 18 and over.

Meanwhile, Bangkok Metropolitan Administration spokesperson Pongsakorn Kwanmuang explained, during a live interview with “The Standard” late Wednesday, that it is expects the capital’s entire population to be fully vaccinated by October 25th, which resulted in the decision to delay the reopening.

A total of 41.64 million vaccine doses have been administered across Thailand to date, with about 13.72 million people, or about 19.6% of the population, having received two shots.

In mid-June, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha declared Thailand will fully reopen to overseas arrivals in 120 days or by mid-October. However, with a surge in infections in August, he admitted on September 1st in a parliamentary debate that it may not be possible, and that only some sectors may reopen by then.

Currently only provinces and beaches in the South such as Phuket, Surat Thani, Krabi and Phang Nga, are welcoming international arrivals under the sandbox programs.