Pattaya shuts down as Covid-19 cases explode in Chonburi

The closure of Pattaya’s bars due to the coronavirus pandemic set off a domino-effect disaster, with the economic impact trickling down from bar workers to taxi drivers to food vendors and beyond.

Pattaya shut down today for the second time this year after more than 100 new coronavirus cases in Chonburi prompted the governor to close all non-essential businesses.

The Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration today reported 250 new Covid-19 cases, with 108 of them in Chonburi and 39 in Rayong, nearly all linked to illegal gamblers in Rayong.

The emergency order issued by Gov. Pakarathorn Thienchai this morning covers all of Banglamung District, encompassing Pattaya, and closes all bars, nightclubs, karaoke joints and massage parlors. Private gatherings and parties – aimed at New Year’s Eve – also are banned.

Restaurants are restricted to takeout and delivery only, except for restaurants inside hotels, but those can only serve guests. No outside customers.

Shopping malls and standalone retail stores must close, except for supermarkets, pharmacies, banks, hardware and construction stores, mobile phone and electronics shops. Temple and amulet stores must shut down.

Grocery stores may only sell food and essential items. No alcohol, although there is no total alcohol ban. Convenience stores must close from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.

All schools are closed, along with nurseries, child care centers, colleges and tutorial services.

Leisure centers, such as movie theaters, bowling alleys, pool halls, waterparks, game centers, gyms and tourist attractions are closed.

Public swimming pools must close. Those inside condominiums are up to their management. Public parks also must shut down.

Walking Street’s eerie look during the last shutdown in April 2020.

In addition to massage parlors – both legitimate and “soapy” massage brothels, and beauty clinics must shut down. Barbers and hair salons were not specifically mentioned, so clarification is needed.

Beaches are not specifically closed, even though public parks and gatherings were. Pattaya city officials will need to clarify their position.

The order is effective immediately and remains in effect until further notice. There is no curfew, but people are encouraged to stay home. With little open, there won’t be anywhere to go anyway.

For those who go outside, the requirement to wear a mask is still in force under Thailand’s emergency decree.

Despite earlier assertions to the contrary, it’s now apparent Thailand’s “second wave” of coronavirus cases is here. The CCSA said 241 of the 250 cases today were locally transmitted, with nine found in quarantine centers among overseas returnees and one migrant laborer.

During the last shutdown most businesses were shuttered in the city and have remained closed ever since. (Bob James photo)

Of those, only nine were linked to the Central Shrimp Market outbreak in Samut Sakhon. Four were found in that province, two in Bangkok and one each in Ayutthaya, Ranong and Nonthaburi.

The CCSA said the other 198 cases were still “under investigation” but were likely linked to an underground casino in Rayong. Of those, 108 are in Chonburi (with the majority of these in Banglamung), 53 in Rayong, 17 in Nonthaburi, 12 in Samut Sakhon, seven in Chanthaburi and one in Trat.

Twenty-nine others had visited crowded places or entertainment venues, or worked in “high-risk” occupations. Of these, 15 were in Bangkok – mostly among the elderly – five in Nakhon Pathom, three each in Phetchaburi and Saraburi and one each in Nakhon Nayok, Nonthaburi and Samut Prakan.