Phuket airport is set to close from April 10 to 30, banning all flights and corking off all entry points by land and sea in hopes of stemming the spread of Covid-19.
The city’s sea routes are closed off already, as is Sarasin Bridge, the sole land transport route connecting it to the Thai mainland.
As Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) regulations require seven days’ advance notice for the closure of air transport routes, the airport shutdown will only begin April 10. In response, nine Thai airlines have suspended flights and most hotels in the province are closing to new tourists.
Vehicles transporting gas, medical supplies and food will be allowed entry, but all others will be denied unless they carry special permission from the Ministry of Public Health.
Meanwhile no crews on foreign ships will be allowed to disembark; domestic ship crew can disembark only by presenting a doctor’s certificate and after undergoing a health screening as specified by the Ministry of Public Health.
Phuket also enacted 13 other safety measures over the weekend, reported local news outlet PostToday, among which was the indefinite closure of all of its beaches. Bars and clubs, sports venues, cinemas and massages shops are already under a two-week closure which began March 18 along with the rest of the country’s entertainment venues; the measures now also extend to popular walking street Bangla Road in Patong (now closed to tourists), zoos, and all touristic animal show venues. Under sections 22 and 35 of the Communicable Disease Act, violators could be jailed for up to one year and/or fined up to 100,000 baht.
Phuket has also organised a hoarding inspection team, and implemented additional social distancing, hygiene and quarantine requirements, and enacted a daily curfew from 20.00 to 03.00 with the exception of urgent errands.
Phuket has the highest number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in all of Thailand’s southern provinces, of which nine more were confirmed on March 30 raising the total to 62 cases.
Local hospitality trade organisations such as the Phuket Hotels Association are in the midst of preparing guidelines for their members on how to proceed. The association was unavailable for further comments at press time.