It was a scene straight out of California or Florida: Tens of thousands thronged to Bangsaen Beach after it reopened for the first time in months with Thais throwing caution and social distancing to the wind.
It didn’t last long. Unlike the U.S., which reopened beaches in the two sunshine states even as coronavirus cases continue to rise there, the government shut down Bangsaen a day later, issuing a stern warning that Thailand takes its Covid-19 prevention more seriously than the west.
“Do not forget to take care of yourself. Wear face masks. If young children or family members are infected, you will be in trouble,” the premier said. “People should avoid crowded tourist destinations and turn to other places instead.”
Chonburi shut down the beach on Thursday to put in place stronger crowd management processes and structures.
The full-scale reopening of the beach allowed food vendors, renters of beach chairs, jetskis and swim rings to resume. Drinking alcohol and smoking on the beach is prohibited.
Prayut warned that if such behavior is repeated – and results in a fresh outbreak of Covid-19 – the much anticipated final phase of economic reopening could be delayed.