As Thailand continued to battle its worst wave of COVID-19 outbreak since the pandemic began, authorities said the popular resort island Phuket remained on track to reopen to vaccinated foreign visitors from July 1.
The reopening plan, part of a "Phuket Sandbox" program, was approved Friday at a meeting of the Center for the Economic Situation Administration, chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.
Under the plan which is yet subject to approval by the cabinet of ministers, foreign visitors from low-risk and medium-risk countries to Phuket could be exempted from mandatory quarantine if they have been fully vaccinated with COVID-19 vaccines certified by the World Health Organization.
However, they have to stay on the island but can travel freely for a minimum of 14 days before they can head elsewhere in Thailand.
The country also planned to welcome back vaccinated foreign visitors in nine other provinces, including the capital Bangkok and popular tourist destinations Pattaya and Chiang Mai, in the third or fourth quarter of the year.
As of Friday, Thailand's total caseload has risen to 171,979, while the death toll amounted to 1,177, more than tenfold since the third wave of outbreak started to spread in early April.