Ministry of Tourism pushing for October reopening but some officials apprehensive

The Minister of Tourism Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn is pushing for an October 1 reopening for Bangkok and surrounding provinces even as officials remain apprehensive due to high infection numbers and the ongoing pandemic, a senior health official told Thai Enquirer on Wednesday.

Phipat told reporters on Tuesday that the country was still on course to open up Bangkok to foreign tourists via the sandbox model by October 1.

Under the plan, Bangkok and surrounding provinces will be opened to vaccinated tourists who can travel freely between Bangkok and other sandbox’ed provinces including Phuket and Samui.

Phipat said it was imperative that the country opens up to save the economy and he said he has the blessing of health minister Anutin Charnvirakul.

However, senior health officials within the Ministry of Public Health told Thai Enquirer that there has been push back against the October 1 date as the country’s Covid-19 recovery trajectory was still precarious.

“If we are irresponsible the numbers could still shoot back up, that is why we have to manage the reopening carefully and only when we’re sure that the right number of people are vaccinated,” the source said.

According to the source, the advisers and doctors inside the ministry are asking Phipat and the cabinet to postpone the reopening and consider a November 1 date instead.

“We would be a lot more comfortable pushing the date by just one month to November 1 where we would be sure that those that want a vaccine in Bangkok would have received at least one dose,” the source said.

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