People trapped in Phuket due to the Covid-19 lockdown started leaving Phuket on Friday, however their efforts were thwarted when the lockdown was reimposed. The road from Phuket to Tha Chatchai was jam-packed with cars from early morning, stretching back several kilometres. With people anxious to head home as soon as possible.
But then Phuket made a sudden about-turn on Friday afternoon, announcing that no more people would be allowed to leave until Sunday.
Police chief Pol Maj Gen Rungroj Thakoorpunyasiri did not offer any explanation why.
He said only that the decision was made after discussions between Phuket governor Phakaphong Tavipatana and the government in Bangkok.
Phuket closed its borders a month ago, banning both entry and exit, to constrain the spread of Covid-19. Stranding tens of thousands of Thai and foreign tourists. Many Thai from other provinces who were out of work were unable to return home.
The ban on people leaving Phuket ended at midnight on May 1st and the road reopened at 5am. Approximately an hour after the night curfew ended.
Only 5000 people a day allowed to leave
About 40,000 people had registered to leave Phuket. Having applied online or informed local authorities in advance. The deadline was on Thursday.
The exit flow is being controlled. The Island will allow only 5,000 people to leave each day, half of them in the morning and the rest in the afternoon. At this rate it will take more than a week for them to leave, the Bangkok Post reports.
Meanwhile, the deputy governor said people leaving could not come back at this time, as Phuket was still sealed off.
Thailand’s Civil Aviation Authority also extended the closure of Phuket airport until May 15.
The extension was requested by governor Phakaphong, who heads the provincial emergency panel. The Island has 216 confirmed cases of Covid-19 infection, second only to Bangkok.