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Phuket Tourism Experiment Risks Suspension as Covid Cases Surge

  • The island’s cases rose beyond limit set by Thai government
  • Halting Phuket model may derail October’s wider reopening
A vendor takes down umbrellas at the end of the day at Patong Beach in Phuket, Thailand.

A vendor takes down umbrellas at the end of the day at Patong Beach in Phuket, Thailand.

Photographer: Andre Malerba/Bloomberg

A flareup in coronavirus cases in Phuket, Thailand’s first tourism hotspot to waive quarantine for vaccinated foreign visitors, is threatening to scuttle the experiment seen as a model for other tourism-reliant nations to reopen borders.

The resort island reported 125 new Covid-19 cases during the week ending July 27, higher than the government-set threshold of 90 weekly cases that could trigger a temporary suspension of the program. In response, local authorities closed public schools and shopping malls and banned gatherings of more than 100 people from Tuesday to stem the virus from spreading further.