Governor rules out Chon Buri lockdown
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Governor rules out Chon Buri lockdown

51 more infections reported in province

Chon Buri's governor has ruled out a total provincial lockdown despite the number of local Covid-19 cases rising by 51.

Pakarathorn Thianchai said on Friday tourists were free to visit the province and would not have to self-quarantine for 14 days either when they arrived or returned home.

He said tourists were still travelling to Pattaya despite the provincial authority cancelling the New Year countdown and imposing a partial lockdown in high-risk areas.

Pattaya and the rest of Bang Lamung district has been in lockdown since Dec 30 after it registered 22 new Covid-19 infections. Most entertainment venues, including the city's bars, were closed as a result. However, people were still seen shopping and strolling along the beach.

At Bali Hai Pier, tourists have still been taking ferries to Ko Lan, albeit under tight Covid-19 preventive measures: they were required to have their body temperatures checked and to scan a QR code with the Thai Chana app.

The Centre for the Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) said the number of confirmed cases in Chon Buri yesterday rose to 51, bringing the number of additional cases in the province since the virus reemerged domestically in late December to 211.

Two of those infected had connections to the Central Shrimp Market in Samut Sakhon and the rest were infected at a casino in Rayong.

Preventative measures have been quickly implemented -- on Dec 31, Pattaya City cancelled the New Year countdown event and entertainment venues in Walking Street have also been closed since they are in the highest restriction zone.

Secretary of the Entertainment & Tourism Association of Pattaya City, Damrongkiat Phinitkarn, said businesspeople were not as shocked this time as they had been during the first wave of infections early last year. "Operators have been well prepared and more cooperative," he said.

However, the new wave of Covid-19 is causing grave concern among potential tourists, with pubs and discos reporting a decrease of more than 50% in their customers over the New Year.

Mr Damrongkiat, however, says the business sector remains optimistic that tourism will rebound after the Covid-19 vaccine becomes available later this year.

Thailand's reservation of Covid-19 vaccine doses from the UK was good news, Mr Damrongkiat said, adding that approval of the vaccine by the Food and Drugs Administration would be a major boost to Pattaya's entertainment industry.

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