Saying that warnings are not working, Pattaya police threw 23 people violating Pattaya’s beach-closure order into jail, hoping to set an example of what can happen if people don’t start heeding the law.
The 12 Thais and 11 foreigners arrested on Pattaya, Jomtien and Yinyom beaches were relaxing, swimming and sitting on beach mats around 5 p.m. April 27. Many also weren’t wearing face masks, another violation of Pattaya health regulations put in place to control the spread of Covid-19.
The beachgoers did not go quietly. Several Thais and a foreigner argued with police about what the emergency decree “really” meant and what they believed their rights were. One stroppy foreigner, after trying to insist he knew more than the police, then claimed he was immune to the rules as his father was a local gangster.
All were taken away and tossed into cells.
After being threatened with the maximum year in prison and 100,000-baht fine for breaking the emergency decree, all were released with a stern warning.
While the number of confirmed cases in Pattaya has plunged to zero in the past 10 days, the national emergency decree has been extended for another month. While some businesses will be permitted to reopen – with strict physical distancing measures in place – authorities remain loathe to reopen places where people can gather in groups, whether it be sports stadium, bars or beaches.
Pattaya’s public-relations campaign regarding the beach closure has been vigorous, employing numerous signs, unmanned drones and patrol police. Anyone found violating the decree until now had been given warnings, but the numbers of people congregating has not dissipated.
Exasperated with the continued defiance, Pattaya tourist police and city regulatory officers decided to make examples out of scofflaws Monday. While they hope further arrests aren’t necessary, the next people detained may face expensive penalties.
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