A Thai zoo re-opened on Monday (June 14) two months after it was forced to close due to the spread of Covid-19.
Chiang Mai Zoo in the north of Thailand marked its reopening with animal mascots and handing of souvenirs to tourists.
The zoo followed health protocols including regular disinfection but after the province was listed as one of the high-risk areas with one of the most Covid-19 cases recorded in April, they had to close down.
Zoo director Wuttichai Muangmun said: ‘We will be more vigilant in enforcing the health protocols to protect the guests, our staff, and the animals.
‘The zookeepers will disinfect the place throughout the day especially areas where visitors are mostly gathered such as ticket sales booths and outside enclosures.’
Guests were required to take temperature screenings and wear face masks while inside the establishment for more protection while hand sanitizers were placed in several spots inside the zoo.
Everyone will also be required to scan and log their details to apps so that they each guest could be reached in case a possible contact with a Covid-19 patient was spotted.
To show gratitude, staff gave tokens and souvenirs to tourists who had visited them on their first day of reopening after the third wave of cases hit the region.
However, some parts of the zoo will remain closed such as the Panda Show Zone while its ventilation system is under renovation.
Wutthichai added: ‘The panda show is expected to be opened at the beginning of July. Our panda is a goodwill ambassador of the Thailand-China relationship.
‘We have taken extra care of our pandas. They have separate air conditioners to prevent the spread of virus in an enclosed space.’
Thailand has recorded 202,264 Covid-19 cases and 1,485 deaths as of June 14. Plans to re-open the country to tourists involve ‘sandbox’ quarantine areas where vaccinated visitors can stay while roaming around beaches and bars for 14 days.
However, economists fear that it could be up to five years before the country’s tourism industry returns to pre-pandemic levels.
Two years ago tourism made up an estimated 21 per cent of Thailand’s GDP, generating 1.8 trillion baht in revenue. However, the country’s National Economic and Social Development Council predicted that it could be another five years before similar numbers are seen.
Analysts said that between now and 2026, around seven million workers will continue to be affected by the economic harm from the Covid-19 pandemic.