Govt pushes ahead with reopening plans

The government is preparing to move forward with its reopening plan in five provinces including Bangkok early next month, after the two-month success of its Sandbox scheme in the first phase.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha wants to reopen certain provinces by mid-October, a process set in four phases to cover all regions, to help businesses rebound from Covid-19.

For the first phase, the government started three projects in four provinces: the Phuket Sandbox and Samui Plus schemes on July 1 and July 15, respectively, followed by two provinces, Phangnga and Krabi, under the 7+7 extension plan in mid-August.

Government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana on Thursday said tourists have spent around 60,000-70,000 baht per trip, helping the country generate revenue of 1.63 billion baht.

The second phase is set for next month which is usually the country's tourism high season, followed by the next phase by mid-October.

The government has sped up vaccine inoculation in Bangkok, Chon Buri, Phetchaburi, Prachuap Khiri Khan and Chiang Mai, as these five provinces aimed to reopen on Oct 1.

Protocols will be tweaked under universal prevention guidelines. Campaigns will be rolled out to welcome tourists, such as the Bangkok Sandbox, Hua Hin Recharge and Charming Chiang Mai, Mr Thanakorn said.

In the next phase, the government has selected 21 provinces across the country, Mr Thanakorn said.

In the North, six provinces have been selected: Mae Hong Son, Lamphun, Phrae, Nan, Chiang Rai and Sukhothai. Four were chosen in the Northeast: Udon Thani, Nong Khai, Bueng Kan and Ubon Ratchathani.

The South had five provinces selected -- Ranong, Trang, Satun, Songkhla and Nakhon Si Thammarat -- while the eastern region chose Rayong, Chanthaburi and Trat.

Ayutthaya is planned for the central region, while Kanchanaburi and Ratchaburi are priorities in the West.

In addition to the last phase next January, the government will reopen 13 southern provinces, with a travel bubble plan, Mr Thanakorn said.

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