Phuket beaches set to reopen as virus cases ease

Phuket beaches set to reopen as virus cases ease

beaches beckon: Nai Han Beach will reopen to visitors, together with all other beaches in Phuket from Tuesday.
beaches beckon: Nai Han Beach will reopen to visitors, together with all other beaches in Phuket from Tuesday.

Phuket: The island will reopen its beaches from Tuesday as it eases its lockdown following the decline in local coronavirus infections across the country.

Visitors must strictly abide by rules governing visits to public venues and beaches to prevent the spread of the virus, Phuket governor Pakapong Tawipat said after chairing a meeting of the provincial communicable disease committee yesterday.

The panel had shut all beaches in the province on March 29 as they were seen as places that could attract crowds and increase the risk of Covid-19 transmission.

The island boasts many beaches that are popular among tourists and locals alike. They include Patong, Rawai, Kata, Karon, Nai Han, Yanui, Freedom, Kamala, Surin Bang Tao, Layan, Sai Kaew, Mai Khao, Nai Yang, Laem Sing and Trai Trang. But tourists have been scarce on the island as the country is still closed to international travellers, and Phuket airport is not scheduled to reopen -- for domestic travel only -- until June 15.

Phuket reported no new infections yesterday, while only two cases, both of them returnees from abroad, were reported nationwide. The country has not had a locally transmitted case of the virus for several days.

From Jan 5 to last Friday, there were a total of 227 confirmed coronavirus infections in Phuket, more than any other province except Bangkok. Of the 227 people diagnosed, 224 have recovered and been discharged from hospital. There were three deaths.

In Chon Buri, Pol Maj Gen Nanthachart, deputy commander of the Provincial Police Region 2, yesterday led security officers on an inspection tour of Bang Saen beach which reopened on June 1 when the government further eased the Covid-19 lockdown.

Pol Maj Gen Nanthachart said beach-goers have followed social distancing measures as Saen Suk municipality ordered that seats and beach chairs be set up at least 1 metre apart. Visitors and vendors wore face masks while hand sanitisers were provided at shops and toilets were cleaned every two hours, he said.

Pol Maj Gen Nanthachart said traffic in and around Bang Saen has been re-arranged into a one-way system. He said if parking spots along the beach are overwhelmed, the access road to Bang Saen will be closed and visitors will have to park on Bang Saen Sai 2 Road and walk to the beach. A large number of tourists flocked to Bang Saen yesterday, but they behaved in an orderly and organised fashion due to the strict social distancing rules.

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