“For now, Patong Municipality has already allowed people to relax and do activities on the beach, but we found some people ignoring the requirement to wear face masks,” Patong Mayor Chalermluck Kebsup told The Phuket News’ Thai-language sister newspaper Khao Phuket.
“We have already ordered lifeguards and municipal officers to remind them,” she said.
“We installed signs about the disease-control measures and set up officer teams to take care of people on the beach,” Mayor Chalermluck added.
“We understand that some people want to feel the beach and sea atmosphere, but please wear face masks to protect against the virus from spreading. Please be disciplined without any reminder needed from any lifeguards or officers.” she urged.
Sirawat Kriangkrai from the Department of Public Health and Environment’s Sanitation Division at Patong Municipality told The Phuket News that the requirements for visiting the beach was now considered the “new normal”.
“This to prevent a second wave of COVID-19,” he said.
However, Mr Sirawat did give the face-mask rule at the beach some breathing space.
“If you are swimming or exercising alone, your face mask can be removed, but try to avoid groups of people,” he said.
“Also make sure to bring sanitising gel to wash your hands. You must bring this by yourself,” he added.
Mr Sirawat explained that sanitising gel may lose its effectiveness if left in the heat for extended periods. “It may lose efficiency, therefore we recommend that people bring their own,” he said.
On the other rules, Mr Sirawat was just as stern.
“Do not play sports or do activities that require touching each other, and maintain a distance of at least 1.5 metres from other people. You can come as a family and stay in a group, but try to avoid interacting with other people or other groups,” he said.
“And do not gather to eat or drink,” he added.
Snr Sgt Maj Nittaya Bungthong of the Phuket Tourist Police told The Phuket News that Tourist Police patrols check along Patong Beach every day.
“Most tourists are cooperating very well in complying with the public health regulations and the ‘new normal’ as determined by Patong Municipality,” Snr Sgt Maj Nittaya said.
However, COVID-19 is not the officers’ only concern.
“In addition to observing the ‘new normal’, people also have to follow the rules for swimming safely,” Snr Sgt Maj Nittaya said.
“Playing in the sea during this period, with strong waves, can be dangerous. That is why safe swimming areas have been set up where lifeguards are on duty to provide assistance at any time,” she said.
“When you come to the beach, please follow all the rules. Take care of yourself and swim only in the designated areas,” she added.
Additional reporting by Chutharat Plerin