Friday was supposed to be the start of Pattaya’s rebirth. And even though 70 percent of the city is now fully vaccinated, Pattaya is not reopening to foreign tourism.
City and business leaders already have come to terms with the one-month (or more) postponement of Pattaya’s reopening imposed by the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration. But the fact that officials met the major original deadline for welcoming back fully vaccinated international travelers is a bitter pill to swallow.
Mayor Sonthaya Kunplome said Sept. 29 that the crucial threshold for vaccinating city residents was passed when the last 1,600 of 100,000 legally registered Pattaya adult residents received their second dose of a coronavirus vaccine.
While Pattaya has far, far more residents, they don’t count toward the 70-percent metric because their household is registered elsewhere. Children ages 12-18 also don’t count. So, in fact, Pattaya is commonly known remains far, far from 70 percent vaccinated, but the numbers always are what politicians want to make them.
People may grouse about Pattaya not reopening despite reaching the 70-percent mark by the original Oct. 1 deadline, but vaccination was not the only benchmark the city had to reach.
The government said Pattaya and Chonburi Province also need to show a substantial drop in new daily coronavirus cases and hospitalizations. Neither have been met.
Chonburi on Friday reported 820 more cases, 132 of which were in Banglamung District, which includes Pattaya.
Daily cases in the district have failed to decline, even as the province’s overall caseload trended downward through the beginning of this week. But Chonburi has seen case increases for four consecutive days.
Two more deaths also were reported and 11,483 remain hospitalized.
Sonthaya and doctors from Pattaya Hospital on Sept. 30 visited two hotels converted into coronavirus-care facilities: the OZO North Pattaya and D Varee Jomtien Beach hotels.
The two hotels have a total 1,600 beds for coronavirus patients showing no or mild symptoms. Currently, only 1,100 of those beds are filled, Sonthaya said.
While the number of those placed in the “hospitels” are declining, Pattaya’s overall cases are not. The difference is that new cases – most found with antigen test kits – are being allowed to isolate at home.
Sonthaya said Pattaya will spend October getting ready for reopening and continuing to vaccinate the public. Between 2,000 and 3,000 doses are being administered each day, but October’s immunization focus will be on students – in preparation for the reopening of schools in November – and booster shots for those inoculated with the Chinese-made vaccine from Sinovac Biotech, which is seen as less effective against the coronavirus delta variant.