The Public Health Ministry plans to declare Covid-19 endemic on three key tourist islands in Thailand: Koh Samui in Surat Thani, Koh Chang in Trat, and Phuket, allowing night entertainment establishments to reopen.
Kiattiphum Wongrajit, the ministry’s permanent secretary for health, said on Thursday that the ministry would seek clearance from the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) for its “endemic sandbox” program, a first step toward declaring Covid-19 an endemic disease across the country.
He noted that decreased infections, medical care readiness, and high vaccination rates among people in specific areas were all criteria for the endemic sandbox.
“We selected the islands that are the country’s top tourist destinations first because of their limited areas so diseases can be more easily controlled there,” Dr. Kiattiphum said.
He expected the initiative’s implementation to result in the government declaring Covid-19 an endemic disease in July.
Nightclubs would be able to reopen in the sandboxes with limited restrictions, he added, adding that patrons would need to be completely vaccinated. These sites should be avoided by anyone with underlying conditions.
Face masks, according to Dr. Kiattiphum, will remain a standard requirement.
The Covid-19 situation is projected to improve later this month and next month, according to Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, therefore the ministry will likely decrease its Covid-19 outbreak alert to Level 2.
“Most people will be able to resume almost all of the activities they used to do before the pandemic,” he said.