Record breaking covid wave jeopardizes Thailand’s October reopening

Thailand’s record-breaking third Covid-19 wave is jeopardizing plans by the government to reopen the country to international tourism and may possibly impact so-called ‘bubble city’ tourism plans, multiple sources told Thai Enquirer.

Thailand discovered 1,767 coronavirus cases on Sunday, the third day in less than a week that the daily record for new infections was broken. The new cases means that the current third-wave of the pandemic has been the most severe yet with multiple hot-spots breaking out throughout the country.

The government has said that it will take weeks if not months for the current wave to be brought under control. A best-case scenario said that it would not be until June before the current wave is brought under control. (Read more here)

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha has so far refused to bring the country into lockdown citing economic concerns. But as cases mount and multiple hotspots open up throughout the country, experts say that a lockdown may not be far off.

Several sources, speaking to Thai Enquirer, have said that if the situation is not resolved by mid-year, plans by the government to open up the country in October could be in jeopardy.

“We don’t have a semblance of a vaccine plan, we do not have the willpower to impose measures that can curb this wave, so any talk of opening the country should be shelved indefinitely until we can get this under control,” a senior advisor to the Ministry of Public Health told Thai Enquirer on condition of anonymity.

Another source, a MP inside the ruling coalition, said that the government is beginning to feel uneasy about plans by provincial governors to open up cities as “travel bubbles” to increase tourism revenue.

“I think we have to ask them to halt those plans immediately, these safe zones or green lanes will only make our situation worse,” the MP said. “The cabinet are being tight-lipped about the situation but from what we hear this could go on until June, July or beyond depending on our vaccine situation.

Hospitality business-owners and tourism-related businesses, however, say that the plans must go ahead or the government would be responsible for numerous bankruptcies.

“At the current rate, we can barely make it to October,” said Seksith Pimolnat, an owner of a guesthouse in Phuket’s Patong Beach.

“The bigger hotels might be able to make it if they push it back any further but for small businesses like mine and many of my friends, any more push back will mean we will close up for good,” he told Thai Enquirer by phone.

“What the government needs to do is get this thing under control now so that they don’t jeopardize the October plans.”

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