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Health department urges strict “new normal” measures at beaches



PHOTO: Encircle Photos

With Phase 3 of the easing of lockdown measures across Thailand, many beaches across Thailand were allowed to reopen, including Chon Buri’s popular Bang Saen beach, which was flooded with so many visitors that traffic came to a halt and police ordered the beach temporarily re-closed.

And beaches in Phuket are set to reopen this Tuesday, as the island has seen no new virus cases for weeks, and the nation has had no locally transmitted cases for 13 days.

But Thailand’s health department is calling for limiting the numbers of visitors to tourist spots to prevent a possible surge in infections. The concerns come as Thailand’s government prepares to allow some businesses and activities to reopen ahead of schedule. The head of Thailand’s health department has said that even though some restrictions on domestic travel have been relaxed, travellers should adapt to the “new normal”.

She says people need to continue to practice and social distancing and other safety measure, especially continuing wearing masks and sanitising their hands wherever they go. For the next phase of easing, she says, it may be necessary to curb the number of visitors to tourist spots, similar to limiting the number of people visiting shopping malls.

She wants local governments to control the number of visitors to beaches in their respective provinces, to prevent overcrowding and enforce social distancing. Tourists and service industry workers should also be required to wear masks while on the beaches.

Hand sanitiser should also be provided for visitors, and toilets and bathrooms at beaches should be cleaned every 2 hours, she said. She also believes visitors should have to check in and out at beaches.

Authorities say the health department is monitoring every phase of the relaxation, and has found that while people are continuing to wash their hands, they’re often not wearing facemasks in public.

The health department chief clarified that, despite earlier reports, moviegoers aren’t prohibited from eating and drinking in cinemas, but they are urged to take precautions and wear mask at all times.

The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration announced on Friday that more businesses and activities will be allowed to reopen ahead of schedule if they can give assurances that they have plans in place to prevent transmission of the virus. Spokesman Dr Taweesilp say the CCSA has frequently discussed the fourth and final phase of relaxation, especially for high risk businesses and activities like pubs and bars.

A spokesman for PM Prayut Chan-o-cha said businesses that come up with plans to prevent transmissions may be permitted to reopen ahead of schedule, but that such plans will require approval from the CCSA’s business resumption committee first.

The fourth stage of relaxation will effectively lead to a complete reopening of the country. The government plans to completely lift the lockdown on all businesses and activities on July 1, the end of the Emergency Decree. This includes lifting remaining interprovincial travel restrictions, the national curfew, and presumably the ban on international arrivals.

SOURCES: Chiang Rai Times | Bangkok Post


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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

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