Desperate to get its tourism engine running again – even its just for domestic tourists – Thailand is opening beaches countrywide amid warnings about the type of overcrowding nightmare seen at Bangsaen Beach last week.
At Koh Sichang in Chonburi Province, officials set up a checkpoint at the island’s pier to screen local residents and tourists, by taking their temperature and ensuring everybody checked in using the government’s Thai Chana contact-tracing app.
At Bangsaen, the scene of massive traffic and flouting of social-distancing rules on June 3, Saen Suk Subdistrict installed 14 new checkpoints around the beach to ensure all visitors are screened and checked in.
It has been two days since deckchair and umbrella operators were allowed to resume business activities, but with a strict screening process of all their customers now mandatory.
Meanwhile, vendors are required to space beach chairs a meter apart. Only family members can sit together.
Saen Suk Mayor Narongchai Khuenpluem asked tourists for cooperation and to follow measures such as wearing a mask and maintaining cleanliness of the area.
Bangkok is keeping a close eye on how all the reopenings go. Prime Minister’s Office spokeswoman Narumon Pinyosinwat said Wednesday that local authorities will be held responsible that tourists don’t cause congestion or create situations that could spread Covid-19, despite the fact no locally transmitted cases have been seen in the country in 15 days.
Tourists can relax and have a meal with their families. Beach and water sports can be played in specific areas. However, the number of tourists must be limited, she said.
The health restrictions go beyond the sand. Koh Sichang District and Koh Sichang Subdistrict also are requiring restaurants and hotels on the island to register with Thai Chana. Public transport must limit passengers and maintain enough space between those on board, while each passenger must also wear a mask at all times.
Over on the other side of the Gulf of Thailand, Cha-Am Beach has not seen many tourists yet, even though the beach has been open since June 1. A big reason? Swimming is still prohibited.
Like other beaches, beachchair vendors require customers to check-in via ThaiChana and all activities on Cha-Am Beach end at 7 p.m.
At Samila Beach in Songkhla Province, only a small number of tourists, mostly Thai-Muslim local residents relaxing with their families, arrived at the beach Wednesday.
Normally there would be many foreign tourists, especially Malaysian visitors, but the Malaysian border is still closed.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has asked the ministries of Interior and Tourism and Sports, local authorities and business owners to manage garbage in all the areas. He assured that the government does not prohibit any activities, but asked everyone to adapt to the “new normal”.