Popular beaches throughout Thailand were teeming with visitors on the first public holiday after their closure due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Bang Saen beach in Chon Buri was almost bursting at the seams with beach goers.
Bumper to bumper traffic was seen heading to the beach on Wednesday morning, a public holiday to mark the Queen’s birthday. People seemed to be taking full advantage of the easing of travel restrictions.
Traffic on the beachfront road in Bang Saen ground to a halt yesterday. Prompting authorities to order its temporary closure. By mid-afternoon on Wednesday, bumper to bumper vehicles extended more than 2 kilometres along roads leading to the beach. Municipal Mayor Narongchai Kunplome had to order the roads temporarily closed to clear the backlog of visitor numbers.
Mr. Narongchai explained the beach was too packed, making it almost impossible for people to practice social distancing.
Vehicle were lined up bumper to bumper to visit beach
Police posted a picture of the beach on Wednesday showing vehicles clogging the entire stretch of road. Three of the road’s four lanes were occupied by parked cars.
Mr Narongchai said that from tomorrow vendors could resume trading along the beach. However, the sale of alcohol would be prohibited.
Furthermore seven areas on the beach will be free of beach chairs, where chairs are permitted. He said there must be plenty of space between each chair, while customers are also required to wear a face mask. Those renting the chairs out are required to check body temperature of their customers. Also provide them with alcohol sanitizer gel.
Bang Saen beach will also be closed on Mondays for cleaning. The municipal office said beach chairs may only be put up on the beach from Fridays to Sundays. At other times they must be removed for the sake of orderliness.
According to the Bangkok Post non-chair areas are being designated so people can enjoy wide open spaces on the beach. Under the “new normal” visitors must wear face masks at all times while on the beach. They also must leave the beach by 11pm. It was reported that at the busiest time on Wednesday, at least 5,000 visitors were on the beach.
Authorities had to block traffic coming to beaches
The mayor said authorities will block traffic on roads leading to the beach when necessary to control the number of people. On Wednesday, the number of beach-goers sparked fears among municipal officials about a possible Covid-19 outbreak. Chon Buri has not reported a coronavirus infection in 40 days.
Kittipong Traiboon, a member of the Chalarm Khao (While Sharks) lifeguard team at Bang Saen beach, said the crowds left municipal officials and resources overstretched trying to enforce the “new normal”.
Jutharat Saensuk, 24, said she was pleased the beach was opening again and people had been looking forward to ending weeks of confining themselves at home by strolling along the beach. She travelled all the way to Bang Saen with seven members of her family from Nakhon Ratchasima.
Beaches in Southern Thailand also reopen
Elsewhere, beaches in Hua Hin of Prachuap Khiri Khan also came back to life as seaside vendors and restaurants welcomed back beach goers. Although many of them were local residents.
In the eastern province of Trat, ferries were also back in business. Transporting beach goers between the mainland and islands including the popular Koh Chang.
Koh Samed in Rayong still remains closed as it is located in a national park. Local tourism associations have appealed to the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation to reopen the island.