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Koh Larn Closes Pattaya Island Again Despite Nearly Starving By Doing So Last Year

Not learning from last year's mistake, Koh Larn again will close itself off from the world tomorrow. (Photo: Bangkok Herald)
Not learning from last year's mistake, Koh Larn again will close itself off from the world tomorrow. (Photo: Bangkok Herald)

Despite nearly starving when they closed themselves off from the world last year, Koh Larn residents again are closing the Pattaya resort island, telling all tourists to leave by Tuesday.

The Ko Larn Community’s Covid-19 Committee voted to close the island until at least Jan. 20 even though Chonburi’s governor has imposed no such order. Tourists are being asked to leave by 5 p.m. today but the hard deadline is tomorrow.

Koh Larn residents are among the most skittish in Pattaya and apparently all it took to barricade themselves offshore again was for a ticket booth for an island ferry to appear on a Sunday list of places where an coronavirus-infected local had visited.

Under the order, all hotels, resorts, guesthouses and other veneus must remove non-residents today and cannot accept mainlanders until the crisis ends.

Anyone leaving the island who later tests positive for Covid-19 are directed to notify the island committee.

As for those allowed to remain, they cannot leave the island and will not be allowed to return if they do, except in case of emergency. A health-screening point will be re-established at the main pier for locals returning home to the island.

All gatherings are banned, locals are encouraged to stay home and a voluntary curfew will be put in place from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. with exceptions for fishermen.

The island’s gamblers also are out of luck, as mainland lottery vendors are also banned while mail will have to be sanitized before delivery to Koh Larn.

Dine-in service at Koh Larn – not Pattaya mainland – restaurants is banned and the island’s food-delivery lifeline boat is prohibited from carrying passengers.

Those who feel unjustly locked out can appeal to authorities at Bali Hai Pier.

Koh Larn closed similarly closed itself off from the world on March 28-June 1 last year and suffered mightily for it, leaving observers scratching their heads over how islanders didn’t learn their lesson the first time.

Entirely dependent on the tourist trade, island residents began going hungry, forcing the city to donate 2.8 tons of rice on April 6 and another 150,000 in food arranged by the city’s Thai Garden Resort on May 18. The hotel, working with the city, also arranged subsequent relief measures.

In May, local residents cried to city officials about how they were suffering due to their self-inflicted wound, but community leaders went ahead on Sunday and did it again.

This story was written by Herald staff for the Pattaya Mail, a Bangkok Herald partner.