All beaches in the Pattaya area remain closed until at least May 31st at the decision of the Chonburi Provincial Communicable Disease Committee and the Chonburi Governor, as well as the Pattaya Mayor Mr. Sonthaya Khunplueme.
Despite the closure, however, many local residents, Thai and expats, have been complaining on social media that they feel the closure is an over-reaction as the Pattaya area has had no cases of Covid-19 in close to a month and zero patients currently in treatment at any area hospitals.
The Pattaya News has received dozens of mails and letters from area residents who have professed anger and do not agree with the decision of the city officials to close off the beach, even for swimming. The majority of complaints arise from people asking why such venues as busy markets or restaurants can be open for business or why hundreds of people can now legally walk on the sidewalk and exercise paths around the beach and area public parks but cannot go for a swim or a quiet walk alone on the sand.
Pattaya City Mayor Sonthaya Khunplueme, however, explained to the Pattaya News last week why the city is standing firm on this decision.
Mayor Khunplueme said that despite the lack of cases here and Pattaya now being labeled a white zone in Thailand in terms of Covid-19, which means no new recorded cases in at least 21 days, the concern from city and provincial leaders is that with the city freshly unlocked from checkpoints and restrictions residents of nearby provinces and the Bangkok area would be tempted to come to the area for a day on the beach, especially with nearly all entertainment style venues closed nationwide and millions still out of work.
Mayor Khunplueme told the Pattaya News that the city cannot take the chance of having thousands of beach-goers from other provinces, especially Bangkok, until officials feel sure that the Covid-19 situation is clear. Bangkok has had several active new confirmed cases in the past several weeks, although the country as a whole has been in single digits of new confirmed cases for weeks. He also stated that if the beach was open the concern was that many people would gather, drink, socialize and hold small parties on the beach and at this time it was unacceptable. Additionally, gatherings of any size for socializing over drinks remains against the Emergency Decree to control the Covid-19 Coronavirus.
The Mayor added that he understood local residents were not happy with the decision but that if they worked together for just a short while longer to make sure the virus did not return to the Chonburi area they would be able to re-open the majority of city businesses and the beaches and let people return to their lives.
The city has shown that they mean this closure is serious as dozens of closure signs now cover the local beaches and Pattaya City arrested several tourists last week for refusing to listen to law enforcement orders around not going for a swim on a beach near the Sands Cafe area and Pratumnak Hill. Patrols of officers are a frequent sight on Jomtien and Pattaya Beach, ensuring that residents and expats are only using the area for exercise in terms of the sidewalks and promenades and not sitting, loitering, socializing or gathering.