The Chonburi Governor is rushing to open Pattaya for foreign tourists later year if enough people receive a Covid-19 vaccine in the province.
Additionally, the Governor addressed growing calls from the entertainment and service sector, especially in Pattaya, to be allowed to open with rules and regulations.
A meeting was held on Tuesday of this week (June 22nd) at the Chonburi Provincial Health Office and was led by the Chonburi Governor Phakharathorn Tieanchai and the Pattaya City Mayor Sonthaya Khunploem.
Governor Phakharathorn told the meeting, “Chonburi has many Covid -19 clusters mostly at markets, factories, construction sites, and migrant worker dormitories. To control the spread of the virus we have to do active case finding before ordering the closing of any of these places. This must be done within two days. We have been visiting all the major markets and industrial estates in the province and testing hundreds of people proactively which is how we have found recent clusters of Covid-19 as the vast majority of those found were completely asymptomatic and had no idea they were carrying the virus.”
“If we immediately close high-risk places like markets and factories before doing active case finding, then people will simply move to other areas and it will be more difficult to control the spread of Covid-19. This is why simply ordering all markets or factories closed would not be beneficial, people would simply leave to other areas or provinces looking for work as they would have no income. One thing that can protect people from Covid -19 is for everyone to get a Covid-19 vaccine to help protect themselves and each other.” The governor continued.
“In the near future, we will be asking that only sellers who have been vaccinated will be allowed to work in local markets as they are such high-risk for the spread of Covid-19 but essential to the economy and peoples food source. We are also proposing that anyone in high-risk groups who wants to receive the vaccine will need to get a Covid -19 test first. People who have been quarantined with a positive result for Covid-19 will have to be vaccinated later.” The Governor added.
“In total there are more than 1.17 million people who have registered to get a Covid-19 vaccine in Chonburi. About 15 percent of those who have registered have had at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine so far. We have had a huge interest in being vaccinated in Chonburi and don’t see a high level of hesitancy here as many local residents feel the only way we can bring back tourism and let closed business sectors like entertainment reopen is through the vaccine. However, overall vaccine supply is still a major issue but should be resolved in the very near future. We are aware of the demand, including from foreign residents, but simply don’t yet have the supply we anticipated due to vaccines being sent to larger clusters of Covid-19 such as in Bangkok. This should be fixed as the central government gets more vaccines.” The Governor continued.
“The Covid-19 vaccines we get available in the near future will be given to people at high-risk venues like markets and factories first to help resolve the problems in these hotspots. Next month the Chonburi Social Security Office will receive 160,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccines for insured persons who have previously registered. Pattaya City has also ordered 100,000 doses privately which is set to be given to the elderly, those with pre-existing health conditions, and tourism industry workers to prepare to reopen later in the year.” The governor said.
“We will not ease more restrictions and measurements now. There are still many confirmed cases. Many businesses, especially in the service/entertainment/music industry are asking to open and have sent letters and came to meet me in person. We understand and want everyone to have a job and income which can help the overall economy as well. Pattaya in particular has been hit hard by closures in the nightlife sector and we have heard the pleas of business owners loud and clear, but we simply cannot relax restrictions at this time with so many cases and a lack of vaccine supplies. We will discuss the issue carefully over the next few weeks and continue to evaluate the situation.” The governor concluded.
Pattaya Mayor Sonthaya added, “We are sure that we will receive more vaccines in July and August to meet the demand of our residents, including ex-pats. We expect a full opening of Pattaya City with all sectors open to foreign and domestic tourists around October but we will focus mostly on domestic tourists first even though foreigners can come. We don’t anticipate gigantic numbers of foreign tourists at first like prior to Covid-19, this will take time, but we learned last year that with events and promotions domestic tourists want to travel to Pattaya.”
The Pattaya News notes that last year when Pattaya was open for six months without any confirmed cases of Covid-19 domestic tourism, especially on weekends and during events like Loy Krathong and the fireworks festival, helped sustain Pattaya while foreign tourism was still essentially dead in the water due to border closures and mandatory quarantine.
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