The Pattaya Police continue on a daily basis to enforce the order of the Chonburi Governor to close all public beaches to help control the spread of Covid-19.
The order, which also closes all public parks, reservoirs, walkways on some local bridges and other places where people typically gather, has been controversial with mixed reactions online among both the Thai and Foreign community. Additionally, alcohol sales remain banned in Chonburi as is eating and drinking in public places. Police have also stated that the orders ban “gatherings” and that there is no specific number of people to be considered a gathering-two people socializing over drinks on the beach could be considered a violation of the order.
The controversy stems from some people who have vented frustrations online of wanting to go for for a run, fishing, exercise or a swim, alleging that they are perfectly able to physically distance from others while engaging in such activities and are not socializing or gathering. Critics state that they fully understand the reasoning for closing the areas is to discourage groups sitting and socializing, but that exercise should be allowed. The beaches initially remained open during the crisis, however, with nearly every business closed where people normally gather in Pattaya, as more people flocked to the beach the Chonburi Governor issued the closure orders to prevent gatherings.
Pattaya Police, however, have stated to The Pattaya News that the order is quite clear and that it is their duty to enforce it, regardless of what the public may think of the restrictions. Pattaya Police have been issuing regular patrols, both foot and bike, to remove violators from the beach. They have stated that for the vast majority, a quiet, friendly verbal warning works without needing further action. However, 73 people have been issued fines after refusing to comply with prior soft warnings, according to Pattaya Police. The exact amount of the fine was not named, although under the Emergency Decree to control the spread of Covid-19 fines can range up to 100,000 baht.
Pattaya Police also have a large drone specially designed that plays music, alarm sirens, and speaks in English and Thai warning people to leave the beach. This can seen throughout the day, especially around the popular Sunset time, flying over the beaches warning people to go home.
Police have also been enforcing the walkways, especially on Pattaya Beach, asking people to leave the walkway as it is considered part of the Beach.
Critics on social media groups, however, say that since there is no “stay home” or “lock down” order, people out for exercise end up simply walking in the road or across the street on a smaller sidewalk, which is actually more dangerous and provides less ability to physically distance.
The Pattaya News notes, however, that some residents of Na Jomtien and more remote beaches have complained that alleged enforcement of the “closure” policy is not as efficient in these areas.
The Thai Government has stated they will be considering loosening restrictions in the future if the situation with the spread of Covid-19 continues to improve. Parks and public spaces like beaches are believed to be some of the first restrictions to be possibly eased in the country, however may not be immediate in all provinces. Chonburi remains classified as a high risk province with 86 positive cases of Covid19 since the start of the outbreak and as a result restrictions on closings may be lifted later than other low risk provinces.