South Koreans Arrive for Thailand’s First ‘Golf Quarantine’

A woman destined for Thailand’s first “villa quarantine” gets a COVID-19 test on Feb. 21, 2021 at Phuket International Airport.

BANGKOK — The government pandemic center announced Monday that a group of 41 South Koreans have landed in Thailand for what is termed as the country’s first ever “golf quarantine.”

The 41 South Korean nationals are currently quarantined at Artitaya Golf Country Club in Nakhon Nayok, having arrived on Thursday,  a center spokeswoman said. The travelers will be confined in their rooms for only five days and allowed to use the country club’s golfing facilities afterward, if they test negative for the coronavirus .

Pandemic center spokeswoman Apisamai Srirangsan said the government is open to suggestions  quarantine experience that would be attractive to foreign travelers.

“Business owners can suggest other quarantine ideas, and even arrange for food delivery and selling items in the quarantine area,” Apisamai said at the news conference. “With this system, the economy can develop while following safety measures.”

Quarantine tourism for the ultrarich travelers appears to be underway. The pandemic center announced last week that a group of around 70 “international socialites” will land in Phuket as part of a travel bubble. On Sunday, 59 of them already arrived on the island via two flights: a private jet carrying 13, and a chartered flight carrying 46, officials said.

The group will undergo a luxury “villa quarantine” at Sri Panwa Resort, whose owner made news in September for lashing out at pro-democracy demonstrators. The cost wasn’t mentioned.

A photo of South Koreans arriving for Thailand’s first Golf Quarantine group released by the government on Feb. 22, 2021.

The border remains closed to tourism in general, however. Although several trade federations have called for the border to reopen to foreign travelers who are already vaccinated against COVID-19, the government has yet to make any formal decision on the matter.

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Health officials also announced Monday that an active case search in Pathum Thani covering 13,000 people have turned up at least 430 infections. Most of them, 413, were linked to an outbreak at Pornpat Market in the province.

But the case number nationwide is falling. According to the coronavirus response center, Thailand logged 89 new infections as of Monday, 73 of them local and the rest found in quarantine for arrivals from overseas.

“We are seeing infections in [just] two digits per day now,” Apisamai said.

Of these numbers, 31 cases were found in Samut Sakhon, 11 in Tak, and 9 in Pathum Thani.

The infections in Tak were traced to a trucker who transports items between Thailand and Myanmar.

Apisamai said markets nationwide should conduct tougher social distancing and screening measures. Many markets currently do not require customers to check in via the government’s app for COVID-19 tracking, or Thai Chana.