In this time period, which began on 16 June 2021, he hopes to continue administering vaccination on Thais, reopen Phuket to tourists, and produce Thailand’s very own vaccine.
On Wednesday (16 June), Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha addressed the nation - setting a goal for the country to reopen itself to both locals and internationals, within 120 days from yesterday.
Noting the possible risks that may come with this move, the PM said: “I know this decision comes with some risk because when we open the country there will be an increase in infections, no matter how good our precautions.
“But, I think, when we take into consideration the economic needs of people, the time has now come for us to take that calculated risk. The priorities for our country must now advance to the next level.”
The Prime Minister also said that the country must come to terms with the pandemic; that this situation will stay for the unforeseeable future. It is thus crucial that Thailand opens itself up, even without 100% vaccination rate in the country, to “let people go back to being able to earn a living.”
In his speech, PM Prayut suggested that:
- Visitors to Thailand who are fully vaccinated must be able to enter our country without quarantine or other inconvenient restrictions;
- Thais travelling abroad who are fully vaccinated must also be able to return home without confinement in quarantine;
- Places of work and business must be able to operate normally and without blanket restrictions, and domestic travel, too, must be without blanket restrictions.
“The only exception to these guidelines will be if a truly serious situation develops or seems likely to develop, and we will look at those situations on a case-by-case basis,” he said.
PM Prayut also urged every department in the government and governors of provinces to make all preparations accordingly and allow Thais’ lives to return to normalcy within that timeframe.
To start the reopening, PM Prayut said that the government will first pilot this phase with Phuket - and receive visitors using a ‘sandbox’ model, a restricted environment.
This is because he believes other countries would start relaxing on travel restrictions within the same period, thus bringing an influx of potential tourists.
With regard to this, he said: “I have accelerated this matter for it to be considered and decided at next week’s Cabinet meeting.”
While these are taking place, PM Prayut highlighted that the country’s vaccination programme will continue as planned.
“My next mission, with the progress of our vaccination programme, is to rapidly try and get Thailand back to operating normally,” he shared.
“In the near term, the top policy priority is for everyone to get, at least, their first shot of a vaccine as fast as possible.”
The longer-term plan, on the other hand, is for Thailand to build its vaccine production, he added. This can help the country keep its people vaccinated for “as many years and as long as is necessary.”
The Prime Minister then concluded his speech:
“As we move forward, we will face new situations when we open the country to visitors. I would like to recognise public health personnel, our village health volunteers, and other related staff for doing their best to be ready for any new challenges that we may face when we open our country, despite the enormous demands placed on them for so long.”
“I know there are some risks but this is the right direction for Thailand.”