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Thai island seeks quarantine waiver for vaccinated visitors

Thu 25th March, 2021 11:30am
BANGKOK, March 25 (Reuters) - Thailand's resort island of
Phuket is pushing to waive compulsory quarantine for tourists
vaccinated against COVID-19 from July, when it expects 70% of
its local population to have been inoculated.
    The island, which is visited typically by about a quarter of
foreigners who travel to Thailand, is leading a project to
revive a tourism industry battered by the pandemic, which has
weighed heavily on its broader economy. 
    "On July 1, we will be able to have tourists who have
received two vaccine doses come to Phuket without having to stay
in quarantine," Tourism Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn told
reporters on Thursday. 
    "After one week on the island, without symptoms and with
negative tests, they can travel to the rest of the country."
    Thailand will from next month allow vaccinated visitors to
undergo one week of quarantine instead of the required two
    Though its strict rules have kept coronavirus cases to a
fraction of those in many other countries, it has caused tourist
numbers to plummet. 
    The central bank expects 3 million foreign tourists this
year, compared with 6.7 million last year and nearly 40 million
in 2019, who spent 1.91 trillion baht ($61.4 billion).
    The tourism ministry is requesting 925,000 vaccine doses to
inoculate 70% of Phuket residents starting from next week,
Phiphat said. 
    Thailand has administered about 100,000 doses among medical
workers and at-risk groups so far. Authorities on Thursday
approved Johnson & Johnson's  JNJ.N  vaccine, the third to be
authorised after those of AstraZeneca  AZN.L  and Sinovac
 SVA.O .*:nL1N2LN0WT
    Phuket's "Tourism Sandbox" plan will be sent to the
country's coronavirus taskforce for approval this week.
    Hoteliers are keen to deploy vaccines faster and wider to
speed up the revival. 
    "The government has to expedite approval of additional
vaccine brands and import more vaccines and inoculate more
people immediately," Thai Hotels Association president Marisa
Sukosol Nunbhakdi told Reuters.
    Hotels had become "zombies", she said, with immense debt and
no profits. 

 (Reporting by Chayut Setboonsarng and Panarat Thepgumpanat;
Editing by Martin Petty)
 ((, Twitter: @ChayutSet;
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