Update: Top unelected guy now says nuh-uh to Oct. 15.
Is Bangkok ready to get back to business? Its top unelected official thinks so.
Weeks of talk about reopening the capital city despite a still-rampant coronavirus outbreak have concluded that Bangkok will be ready to welcome international travelers starting Oct. 15.
That’s the date Bangkok Gov. Aswin Kwanmuang and tourism minister Pipat Ratchakitprakan announced yesterday for reopening Bangkok 19 months after borders were closed in response to the pandemic.
The reopening date was postponed from its original Oct. 1 in hope of achieving full inoculation of 70% of the capital’s more than 9 million residents.
As of today, only 37% of that population has been fully vaccinated, according to Pipat. But over 70% has received a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Although the conditions and requirements that will be imposed upon travelers from abroad are yet known, Bangkok is expected to follow the lead of Phuket’s so-called sandbox scheme under which arrivals are tested for COVID-19 three times and must stay at government-certified hotels, among other conditions.
While more areas are brought online for travel under such conditions, Yuthasak said earlier this week that officials are discussing whether to drop the sandbox programs in favor of a unified approach that would see the full kingdom reopened under strict limitations.
Thailand recorded another 13,897 COVID-19 infections today, and most of the daily caseload continues to be in the capital.
Reopening Bangkok is likely to be as much of a cold economic calculation, as the tourism-reliant economy has been battered by more than a year and half of closed borders.