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Thailand to welcome tourists, with restrictions

BANGKOK — Thailand is preparing to receive the first group of foreign tourists since scheduled commercial passenger flights into the country were halted in April due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Phuket Gov. Narong Woonsiew on Wednesday inspected the international airport at the popular southern resort island, where a new system including coronavirus testing and transport facilities has been installed to welcome the first 150 Chinese from Guangzhou province on Oct. 8.

Minister of Tourism and Sports Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said at least three groups of foreign tourists will arrive in October — two from China and one from Scandinavia. All will be subject to a 14-day quarantine and other restrictions on their movements.


The plan still needs final approval from the Cabinet. There has been speculation that the Oct. 8 start may be delayed, but Narong told reporters Phuket is ready.

“We have to assure hygiene for local residents, but at the same time we have to revive our economy. We should do that without triggering a second round of the outbreak,” he said.

Thailand has had 3,564 confirmed coronavirus cases, including 59 deaths. Regular commercial air traffic remains limited.

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HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK

— At virus milestone, Italian priest reflects on loss, lessons

— Israel approves law to curb protests during virus lockdown

— As virus curbs Nepal’s festivals, devotees fear gods’ anger

— U.S. restaurants are moving warily into fall, hoping their slow recovery persists despite the new challenge of chilly weather and a pandemic that’s expected to claim even more lives. New York opens indoor dining on Wednesday, restricting capacity to 25%.

— The Tennessee Titans suspended in-person activities through Friday after the NFL says three Titans players and five personnel tested positive for the coronavirus.

— Chancellor Angela Merkel and the governors of Germany’s 16 states have agreed on plans meant to keep the country’s coronavirus infection figures from accelerating to the levels being seen in other European countries, while keeping schools and businesses open if possible.

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Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

PRAGUE — Czechs are casting ballot from their cars for the first time, a measure forced by the coronavirus pandemic.

A total of 156 drive-in temporary ballot stations have been established by the armed forces across the country for those quarantined due to coronavirus infections.

Those who cannot use a car can ask for a visit of a special electoral committee with a ballot box in their homes.

Previously, those quarantined were not allowed to vote because of health concerns. But as their numbers rose, new legislation was passed to make sure their voting rights were respected.

The Czechs are voting in regional elections and the first round of elections for one third of the upper house of Parliament, the Senate, on Friday and Saturday. The second round of the Senate elections is scheduled for Oct 9-10.

The Czech Republic has had 67,843 confirmed cases with 636 deaths.