ANNIINA IS A PHUKET LONG-TERM RESIDENT GIVING US A WEEKLY DOSE OF THAI LIFE. READ FROM HER WEEKLY BLOG WHAT'S GOING ON IN THE LAND OF SMILES.
“Why didn’t I know anything about this?” - It’s a good question. It was presented to me by a teenager with whom we discussed Covid-19. Indeed, the question is a good illustration of how little and one-sided the subject is generally talked about here in Thailand. The vaccine is expected, until then we stay at home and disinfect everything from the soles of the shoes to the window sills. I absolutely would not go marching on behalf of the conspiracy theories but I want to know everything I can about the topic, from doctor’s opinions to research data and anything in between. Based on that I reserve the right to act in the way I choose, without pushing my opinions to anyone else.
My own close circle includes both disinfectants who take all precautions very seriously and those who only follow the mandatory precautions required to move around in public places. Personally, I find those who go around without masks very irresponsible, just because of their own peace of life,. One thing that cannot be justified even by the most critical thinking Thai is the violation of the status quo. The national us -spirit does not allow that.
Thailand has been more than 75 days yesterday with no locally spreading Covid-19 cases. Few new cases have been reported among returnees, most recently among Thai nationals returning home from Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and the United States. In any case, home quarantine is waiting for everyone who returns to the country so it is unlikely that any of these returnees will rupture the corona luck that we have had.
Because of this, public opinion seems to be that borders should be kept closed for the time being. This opinion is shared between both Thais and immigrants. Our positive numbers may even seem unbelievable, but if they weren’t true we would certainly see it as overcrowded hospitals even though Thailand has often used to smooth out facts and numbers for fear of losing a face. However, this is not the case. Nor are there any indications about the second wave.
When the planned “travel bubble” programs proved ineffective, the state has now introduced a new plan. It is called “Safe and Sealed,” which would allow citizens of certain, low-infection countries to enter the country on vacation, at certain screened and protected destinations. All this could be experienced by a tourist at double the normal price. According to the Minister of Tourism, this is the last resort to get the much-needed and completely lost source of income back to the country. "Security means that we only select guests from cities that have not been infected for at least 30 days, and they can travel in closed conditions offered by tour operators in designated hotels and provinces that agree to receive these tourists." (direct quote, Khun Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn)
The tourist billions generated by Thailand from 2019 are currently only a memory and their achievement in 2021 does not seem likely. This can be seen in the street scene as open, but very dim lighting (to save the cost of electricity) as companies operating with reduced opening hours, with those who still struggle to open at all. Staff hours are reduced, paychecks cut. Various proposals and plans for revitalizing tourism can be read on a daily basis, but how they work in practice is a scarce material. However, entrepreneurs in the hotel and tourism sector are very willing to cooperate within the limits allowed by the state, even if it means large-scale special arrangements, although they have had plenty of time to execute them. The only thing missing now is the most essential part of the business - the customer.
So Thailand is not yet open to you, dear readers and friends of Phuket, and no one will know for how long. Now, however, families are already allowed to reunite and it is also permissible to enter the country as a medical tourist with an escort. Permission to enter the country can also be given to work permit holders or those who have proof of permanent residence. The list of permit holders is long, but does not apply to tourists, and in practice requires a great deal of effort in the form of diverse permit documents. Restrictions also vary between provinces.
Behind this link is a very clearly written experience of how to get to Thailand at the moment and what everything is required for it.
Unfortunately, Thailand’s position as one of the world’s best anti-corona countries has caused a lot of anti-Western discrimination and the state has not risen up to defend these prejudices. Marathons, for example, are already organized normally, but westerners are not allowed to participate in them. I have also noticed how the police stop and check the papers of foreigner bikers only and all day long. Personally, fortunately, I have not experienced any discrimination, but its signs are clearly in the air.
Price discrimination has also often been the subject in social media, on which I do not agree at all, on the contrary. The buyer's market is buzzing when the products are in super sales and especially the leisure goods trade is doing well. Good deals can be found in all areas and restaurants in particular have excellent offers all the time.
I think we have been kept safe here like little birds in their nests; there’s no need for prejudice, it just further fuels the dichotomy. And at the same time, it leaves without feeding those who desperately need the support of the huge immigrant population living here.