Speaking to local press, the mayor of Pattaya declared a number of successes in vaccinations and Covid-19 prevention, including that Koh Larn is 70% vaccinated. While the government has been hesitant to commit to any reopening sandbox plan for Pattaya, the city has been focused on finding a way to welcome back tourists as soon as possible.
The Thai government has been opposed to Pattaya reopening citing that islands like Phuket and Samui can easily control who enters and exits, while a city like Pattaya can’t regulate all the different roads in and out. But the tiny beach island of Koh Larn is an ideal tourist mecca that can be a “safe and sealed” location for Pattaya.
Koh Larn reopened on Monday to tourists after more than a month since closing over Covid-19 concerns on May 5. The time was spent vaccinating the approximately 2,500 permanent residents of the island. Pattaya’s mayor said that only about 300 people over the age of 18 and eligible for vaccination haven’t received a vaccine yet. The remaining 300 are expected to get their shots when the next vaccine shipment arrives from the government at the end of the month.
Koh Si Chang is following suit, quickly vaccinating all the population on the island and nearly at 100% vaccination rate. Like Koh Larn, Joh Si Chang is almost entirely reliant on tourism for its economy to survive. And without it, the islands of Chon Buri province have little more than the local fishing industry that the islands traditionally survived on before tourism took hold of the area.
The Chonburi Public Health Office has prioritised the vaccination of the residents of Koh Larn and Koh Si Chang because of this reliance on tourism. It means that the people on the islands are high-risk as they interact with tourists on a daily basis, as a popular tourist destination for domestic Thai tourists. With Pattaya pushing to reopen to international tourists as soon as possible, those island residents will be in contact with those international travellers as well.
The mayor pointed out that this vaccination drive was not mandatory, and that residents all got vaccinated voluntarily. Recognizing that tourism income was imperative, and tourists aren’t coming back until vaccination hits herd immunity levels, the locals opted in to vaccine sign-ups and inoculations. The last thing they want is another outbreak and lockdown.
SOURCE: The Pattaya News
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