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Phuket Opinion: Beached by COVID

Phuket Opinion: Beached by COVID

PHUKET: At this stage Phuket officials have very little reason to keep the beaches closed. Phang Nga just to the north of Phuket never closed their beaches all throughout the COVID-19 lockdown, and all beaches in Pattaya, including Jomtien, can reopen from tomorrow (June 1).

By The Phuket News

Sunday 31 May 2020, 09:00AM

Closed for COVID, but the warning for rip currents still stands at Karon beach. Photo: Eakkapop Thongtub

Closed for COVID, but the warning for rip currents still stands at Karon beach. Photo: Eakkapop Thongtub

In explaining the latest round, Phase 3, of the relaxation of the lockdown restrictions, Natapanu Nopakun, Deputy Director-General of the Department of Information and Deputy Spokesman of the Foreign Affairs Ministry, on Friday (May 29) explained very clearly: “This is the general principle the general foundation of the relaxed measures from the central government. Each province would take this as a general guideline, but then each province around the country will take precedence when they have these their own specific local measures as well, which of course would be tighter than the general national guidelines.”

Our local officials have taken a very oblique understanding of how the lifting of the lockdown provisions are to be regulated. In implementing the lockdown provisions, our provincial government issued specific provincial orders to make sure they were to be applied in Phuket, as Mr Natapanu explained.

Specifically, the ban on any unauthorised persons visiting any beaches in Phuket was publicly announced after 8pm on Mar 28. The order became effective immediately, and was worded to remain in effect until at least April 10.

Since that order, and the other initial provincial lockdown orders, were issued, our provincial government has issued orders extending lockdown restrictions in Phuket – but has not publicly issued a single order lifting any restriction. Not one.

Instead, our local provincial officials hide behind the national announcements made in Bangkok. They literally post nothing more than copies of the orders published in the Royal Gazette, which each time stipulate that the businesses and activities listed in the order “may” resume. Correctly, the national order leaves the final decision to local authorities, again just as Mr Natapanu explained.

For some reason the powers that be in Phuket have failed to grasp that simple understanding. 

As Mr Natapanu pointed out very clearly, provincial orders override any national announcements if the local regulation is more stringent in preventing the spread of the virus. 

And so, with the restrictions lifted so far, all the reopenings that have taken place across Phuket since May 17 have been under the assumption that the Bangkok order applies. Whether it does or not is a ridiculous legal loophole. A technicality for sure, no one really cares until authorities actually take action against someone for breach of a health regulation issued under the Emergency Decree, even if Bangkok has approved the activity. Fun stuff.


It is difficult to believe that any of the persons in Phuket involved in this level of obscurity graduated in any form of public administration training. Decent governments attempt to engage in a dialogue with the people. In Phuket, the monologue has been appalling.

As of tomorrow, at least according to Bangkok, fitness centres, sports training centres and even massage centres will be allowed to reopen. Yes, massage centres where therapists even literally lay their hands on clients. Even cinemas will be allowed to reopen, where up to 200 people will be allowed to sit in the same room barely metres away from each other, breathing the same air, but not allowed to consume drink or eat popcorn.

The situation is starting to become farcical at best, while officials continue to bleat that all people must follow the ‘new normal’ health guidelines.

How can anyone justify that walking, standing or sitting on a beach is COVID unsafe while cinemas and massages are deemed less of a threat is beyond anyone’s guess.

If anything is dangerous at the beaches right now, it is the return of the rip currents that arrive with the annual southwest monsoon, which is making its presence felt along the west coast this weekend.

As simply as we can put it: open the beaches (and enforce all the anti-COVID health regulations) and make it illegal to go in the water – for now.

How difficult is that?

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Rorri_2 | 02 June 2020 - 08:21:35

"Only one case of the Corvid 19 virus was caught from being outside " and you believe the Chinese, well, that's up to you, so no need to wear masks outdoors.

Garyw007 | 01 June 2020 - 13:51:23

The beach is the he safest place to be , after a study by the Chinese governments health department showing that only one,  that's 1 case of the virus was caught from being outside. Another study by Harvard School of Medican shows the virus is killed by the sun very quickly. Other facts that prove this is, in the 1917 Spanish flu that took 50 millions of lives, hospital outside in tents did be...

Garyw007 | 01 June 2020 - 13:44:43

Only one case of the Corvid 19 virus was caught from being outside according to a Chinese govt recent report. The safest place for a human being is outsided in the sun . This total control by our fearless leader in Phuket is actually hurting the chances of a fast recovery. Beach and other outdoor activities I'd perfectly safe. The virus dies in only a few minutes in the sunlight. Wake up Phuke...

ericphuket | 01 June 2020 - 09:12:30

It is sad that the island who is generating a  big part of the Thai income is leaded by incompetent people who are scared to take their responsibility.   Do they think that the people who are jobless,moneyless and hungry will keep accepting this?
The whole covid saga has become a mass hysteria orchestrated by governments and media. You have more chance in Thailand to die on the road then from cov

BigA | 01 June 2020 - 08:20:56

Since locals don't swim,don't drink wine all these things are not important ,I am glad locals start liking POTATOS otherwise there would be a ban also

archcan | 01 June 2020 - 08:01:33

The eternal rights of freedom are protected only by constant vigilance.    These petty local rules are there to test our resolve in prep for Covid20 or 21.  Plandemic?  Yes, indeed.

Nekar09 | 01 June 2020 - 00:16:06

Open shopping malls, open massage centers, open bridges but closed beaches!  A real stroke of genius...
the mother of stupid is always pregnant
In a few months they will come looking for us!

DeKaaskopp | 31 May 2020 - 21:19:52

Oh dear, Christy. Do you really believe that or is this just another provocation ?

ThorFinger | 31 May 2020 - 21:08:19

I've got an idea.
Let's put everyone into dangerously close-crowding situations like some supermarkets, outside markets, cinemas, massage parlours and keep everyone away from places that carry near 0 risk if distancing is practised.....like the beach and ocean!
And why so childish and churlish about drinking alcohol at a restaurant?

ThorFinger | 31 May 2020 - 20:57:39

the virus is carried in water droplets coming from our lungs, it's not carried in water bodies like the ocean!
If there had been any police at the patong beach this afternoon, you would have had to arrest half of the remaining population of Patong, as they were nearly all over the barrier.
we should be able to go swimming as long as we keep social distancing, so that nobody can cough into my...

jamesphuket | 31 May 2020 - 20:37:01

It seems your comment about banning going into the sea to swim has been misunderstood to be connected to the Virus.

I understood you mean keep people out of the water due to the rip currents arriving with the annual monsoon season where lots of people drown.

I agree with you.

LALALA | 31 May 2020 - 17:49:14

They also open gyms...according to an article in the thaiger wearing of facemask is required all time during exercise....LOL...this country is a complete joke.

SEC2 | 31 May 2020 - 16:41:30

And while we are on the topic of confusing orders, I read somewhere that they are opening the bridge to Phang Nga on June 1.  But what about quarantine?  Can we now go across the bridge for lunch and a drive back without going into quarantine in Phang Nga and again when returning to Phuket?  Come on, let get some clear direction from the government.

SEC2 | 31 May 2020 - 16:37:28

Overall a good piece about the inconsistency of the orders, but your ending is confusing.

"As simply as we can put it: open the beaches (and enforce all the anti-COVID health regulations) and make it illegal to go in the water – for now."

You are suggesting to make it illegal to go in the water?  But beaches are ok?

JSombra | 31 May 2020 - 15:28:46

'and make it illegal to go in the water '

You were doing so well until that last bit. There is no medical reason for such a ban

friend | 31 May 2020 - 14:33:36

The government  announced the third stage of the easing of the business and activity lockdown, effective from Monday (June 1).Ponds for sports and recreational activities – for jet-skis, kitesurfing, banana boats and such-like – can reopen..., and beaches in Phuket???

Sandbar | 31 May 2020 - 13:01:29

In the words of President Roanald Reagan...tear down those Red and White Tapes around the beaches Mr Governor!

Christy Sweet | 31 May 2020 - 12:41:19

"Farang" (Caucasians) are who like to go to beaches, so that is the one and only reason  they are kept closed. For spite.  

nongku74 | 31 May 2020 - 12:13:07

I walked along Kata beach promenade yesterday and found groups of people sitting on the sidewalk eating and drinking where other people had been walking and dogs urinating. A crazy situation putting people at more risk of picking up infections due to the ban on visiting the beach. Furthermore it can be seen that plastic litter is left behind from these people, without and care or thought of nature

nongku74 | 31 May 2020 - 12:04:38

Farcical indeed! If you venture to Karon or Ya Nui beaches you will find Thai people fishing from the beach at the surf line, these people claim to have authorization from the Tambon’s headman to be able to fish, the police however claim that the beaches are still closed but do nothing to stop the fishermen as is also the case for the so called ‘lifeguards’.

sizzla68 | 31 May 2020 - 11:33:51

and make it illegal to go in the water??? Please dont write such nonsense...!

maverick | 31 May 2020 - 11:24:02

This is not a country contaminated by logic 

Capricornball | 31 May 2020 - 10:15:34

Why make it illegal to enter the water? In the US and Australia, most places have done the opposite...banned gathering on the beach, but allowed water activities. Go do your SUP, swimming, surfing...then leave...no hanging around the beach or parking lots.  And thanks for pointing out the fact that the officials making these foolish decisions have about "0" understanding of public admini...

Kurt | 31 May 2020 - 10:11:57

...Phuket government just trains her inhabitants to become better make sheep. It is all obvious dumb power play by people who now have the time of their life to play authority, something they actually not have naturally in themselves.

Kurt | 31 May 2020 - 10:08:21

As usual, a good piece of 'Opinion'.  The idiotisme of local government ruling in many cases very well illuminated. Can sit 2 hours in a cinema, but having a coke or popcorn with you ..Can not!. Nonsense. Open air restaurants ok, but a glass of wine? Can not. Nonsense. Phuket beaches still closed, this projected on beaches elswhere,..Nonsense. Phuket Government just train her inabitants .....


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