The Governor of the Eastern province Rayong, Charnna Iamsaeng, ordered the popular tourist island of Koh Samet in the province to close to visitors and non-residents immediately last night, April 26th, 2021, due to concerns around the Covid-19 coronavirus.
Governor Iamseng signed the order yesterday with Rayong’s public health coordinator Sunthorn Rienphumikarnkit which will take place from April 27th to at least May 10th. This will see the island’s popular resorts, hotels, and other accommodations all closed and essentially the closure of the entire island for disinfection and cleaning.
According to the Governor, people who had reserved rooms on the island should contact the property they were planning to stay at to postpone or cancel the reservation and that they “should” be refunded. Governor Charnna stated that he specifically was asking for cooperation from island business owners in refunding customers who had pre-booked, adding that he knew how difficult this was for business owners and operators and that those who had social security could collect payments for this forced closure.
TPN media notes that the vast majority of workers in the tourism industry are informal and not valid for social security payments, which are generally about 50% of their overall salary.
A total of 21 Covid-19 patients were found yesterday in Rayong, and at least one was connected to Koh Samet. The island will also only allow residents to enter and exit the area from Na Dan Pier for essential travel to and from the mainland during the closure period.
Additionally, Koh Chang leadership will also reportedly be discussing this afternoon, April 27th, 2021, about potentially restricting the island as well after several cases of Covid-19 were found on the island. This is, however, only a discussion at this point and no solid decisions have yet been made. The decision to hold a formal meeting today about the matter was made at an informal meeting yesterday, April 26th, 2021.
The closures actually come ahead of a four-day long holiday weekend scheduled with labor day and His Majesty the King’s coronation anniversary day for government workers on Monday and Tuesday of next week. However, due to Covid-19, many provinces have enacted travel restrictions (Although Chonburi, home of Pattaya, has not) and are doing everything in their power to discourage people from traveling right now, requiring fourteen-day quarantines or Covid-19 tests for visitors.