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    • F Off Jeff
      Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


      • Pattaya authorities clear up lockdown ambiguities

        Anxious Pattaya expats have been bombarding City Hall helpline personnel and police station officers and volunteers with questions about the latest anti-Covid measures, effective May 1. Chonburi province (including Pattaya and surrounding areas), Bangkok and four other provinces have been designated dark-red areas with maximum strict controls. Pattaya Mail has collated the major responses.

        Alcoholic drinks for home consumption
        Consuming wine, beer or spirits anywhere except in your own home or private hotel room is illegal or highly suspicious. Unlike the April 2020 initial lockdown, retail shops and stores can currently sell liquor for that specific purpose, but subject to restricted hours. City Hall said it would not be illegal to purchase liquor in a restaurant, where you were awaiting the takeout food order, but instant gratification must be avoided at all costs.

        In-dining forbidden
        Eating in a restaurant is banned and the prohibition includes coffee shops. Takeout is permitted (until 9 pm) and that applies to cups of coffee as well as to meals or snacks, but consumption must be well away from the premises and without groups forming. The only exception would be the hotel where you are a resident and the management might, or might not, allow you to have a dinner guest. No alcohol.

        Closure of night spots
        Any premises offering “entertainment” at any time, with or without music or staff participation, remain closed. Government and provincial edicts have broadened the scope to zoos, gyms, swimming pools, massage parlors, billiard halls, cockfighting venues and many others. City Hall said they had advised phone callers that non-mentioned activities such as quizzes or dart matches, even if held outside of licensed premises, were not acceptable because of the danger of group infection.

        Amenities still open
        Beaches and swimming in the sea remain acceptable, but not eating or gathering in groups. Outside sports areas and some golf courses remain open, but anti-Covid health restrictions will apply and spectators discouraged. Reservoir areas and parks can be used for exercising but not for parties. Barbers and hairdressers remain in business at their sole discretion, although customers must wait their turn outside the unit. Beauty parlors were banned in the government edict. In the lockdown of April 2020, all were closed for several weeks.

        Activities with more than 20 attenders
        These are banned unless permission is obtained from the city authorities. But the converse that any activity with fewer than 20 people is thus legal is not true as social gathering increases the danger of infection. City Hall said that permitted group activities were events such as funerals and wedding ceremonies. Another example might be free food handouts to hungry people because queues will form. The immigration bureau said it was restricting the number of people inside the building at any one time.

        Travel within and beyond the province
        There are no formal restrictions in and out of Chonburi province, or within it, but people are requested not to leave their zone except in an emergency. However, other provinces may have different mobility rules which should be checked. There is currently no formal curfew in Chonburi, although police said they might politely question overnight car drivers as all public facilities are closed. Public and private sector staff are requested to work from home for the time being, wherever feasible. This is likely to mean that some public facilities and banks might introduce restricted hours for public attendance.

        Penalties for deviancy
        Pattaya police said that non mask wearing or social gatherings in public could attract cash penalties, but added that the government preferred the principle of cooperation to harshness. Courts would decide. Police pressure would remain on illegal drinking parties and deliberate flouting of the regulations. Those foreigners found guilty of serious infringement would likely require a bail deposit and would eventually face a fine of between 50,000 – 100,000 baht in court. They would also face non-extension of their visa and a ban on returning to Thailand.:

        Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


        • Fake news: Pattaya expats should rush to the Sports Stadium for free vaccinations

          Large numbers of Pattaya expats appear to have been fooled by a widely-circulated report on social media that they could obtain free anti-Covid jabs by visiting the Sports Stadium in Jomtien between 14 and 16 May. According to the nonsense report, both Thais and farang would be serviced on a first-come first served basis.

          City Hall has asked the English-speaking press in particular to stress that there is no such event planned this week. Whilst it is true that Pattaya mayor Sonthaya Kunplome has visited the Stadium to assess its suitability for a mass program, the actual Sinovac vaccines have not yet even arrived in Pattaya. The mayor stressed that, initially, only Thais living in Chonburi and with a 13-digit Thai ID would be eligible for the two-jab treatment.

          However, Pattaya hopes to admit vaccinated foreigners without quarantining in Thailand, in a Sandbox deal beginning on October 1. If that is to proceed, 70 percent of Chonburi residents including foreigners must have been vaccinated by then. Thus foreigners will be able to register for free vaccination beginning in June.

          Foreigners will also, if they wish, enroll at private hospitals during the summer for paid vaccination which is likely to be the AstraZeneca version. There are no firm calendar dates yet available, but a spokesman for a famous Pattaya private hospital said “we expect good news in June”. The government claims that the private sector has agreed to vaccinate as many people as possible, quickly and cheaply.

          Meanwhile, the Department of Special Investigation’s anti-fake news force has now arrested nearly 300 individuals for publishing or spreading coronavirus fake news on the internet. A police spokesperson said the most common nonsenses were that the disease was spread by 5G spectrum radio frequencies, that assorted herbs and medical treatments fought off the virus and that foreigners would be given spoiled vaccines to “decrease the surplus population”. She explained that fake news often handicapped the government’s attempts to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.

          Separately, immigration police have repeated that there is no planned compulsory vaccination required for a visa extension or renewal. Commenting via the 1178 hotline, a spokesperson said, “With so few people yet vaccinated in Thailand, it would obviously be an impossible rule. She added that all entrants to Thailand at present, vaccinated or not, must undergo a compulsory 15 nights’ quarantine. In other words, wait and see and never try to hurry the Orient.:

          Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


          • Beach “closures” in Pattaya, park closures in Bangkok, spark confusion and anger from local residents

            Recent closures of outside “attractions” like beaches in Pattaya and parks in Bangkok have driven widespread anger and even confusion on English and Thai language social media over the past several days.

            This follows the announcements from both Bangkok and Chonburi that they will comply with CCSA guidelines to allow dine-in at local restaurants, with rules, but both areas opted to continue all other provincial restrictions, like the closure of gyms, tattoo shops, cinemas, etc. Most notably, Chonburi kept their restriction of beaches open for “exercise only” while Bangkok kept an overall closure of public parks. Bangkok’s restrictions run until at least the end of the month while Chonburi’s rules are until further notice.

            The Chonburi beach restriction, which is ordered as “open for exercise only” varies greatly depending on the beach. Some beaches allow people to walk on the sand or swim, and some, like Pattaya Beach, are closed entirely to people who wish to walk by the water with officials spending entire days chasing people off the beach. On Jomtien Beach, trucks can be seen going by often with loudspeakers, asking people to stop sitting, keep moving, and get off the sand. Meanwhile, Bang Saray has taken a softer approach, allowing people in and around the beach area and water but not to eat, gather, or drink alcohol. These variances in rules and definitions of “exercise” have driven many comments and anger to The Pattaya News and on social media.

            As for Bangkok, the ongoing ban on public parks in an area with little green space has driven particular anger from residents now forced to jog, walk, and run on city streets. Many critics have stated that the closure actually makes them have to be exposed to more people in a closer capacity as they are running on crowded sidewalks and areas versus a spacious public park.

            Bangkok officials have only stated that the closure of parks is primarily to stop people using it as a gathering point or illegally drinking alcohol or throwing parties in parks, not to stop exercise. Critics of this point of view, however, have argued that parks could easily have patrols and enforce people against gathering and socializing, leaving the area open for much-needed exercise.

            As for beaches in Pattaya, Chonburi officials have previously stated part of the reason for the closure (which also puts hundreds of umbrella and beach vendors out of work, an occupation that is informal and has no job protection) is to “discourage” people from coming from other provinces to relax on the beach and potentially spread Covid-19 in the province. Although most comments agree that this particular point of view makes sense, they also argue that it would be easy to patrol the beaches and ensure people are in small groups while banning alcohol. Some “netizens” have stated that simply allowing swimming or walking on the sand, but not sitting or gathering, would be a better approach.

            Swimming pools remain closed in both areas, Chonburi and Bangkok, at one of the hottest times of the year, notes The Pattaya News, which means many residents wanting to go for a swim on local beaches to cool down cannot.

            Additionally, the closure of local beaches has also driven residents to travel themselves, with many reports on social media of people driving to Rayong where the beaches are open and more relaxed.

            For now, beaches and parks remain essentially closed until further notice for normal usage, despite the unpopular measures.:

            Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


            • Pattaya to scrap 14-day quarantine

              Chon Buri: Pattaya plans to welcome back foreign tourists without quarantine requirements in the fourth quarter of this year and seeks more Covid-19 vaccine doses to cover at least 70% of local residents.

              Pattaya mayor Sontaya Kunplome on Wednesday chaired a meeting to discuss "Pattaya, Move on," a plan to fully reopen to foreign tourists in the fourth quarter after vaccinating more than two-thirds of local residents and workers in the local service sector against the coronavirus.

              Present at the meeting were Pattaya City executives, the head of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT)'s Pattaya branch, the Tourism Council of Chon Buri, the Thai Hotels Association's Eastern Chapter, and the Pattaya Business and Tourism Association.

              "Under the project, foreign tourists who have received two vaccine doses will be allowed to enter Pattaya without the need to quarantine for 14 days, though they must stay in Bang Lamung and Sattahip districts for seven days before being allowed to travel elsewhere," Mr Sontaya said.

              He said tourists must come from countries considered low risk by the Public Health Ministry, and they must receive vaccines -- endorsed by their countries -- no more than one year before travelling to Pattaya.

              Tourists from Germany and Russia will be among those targeted, he said.

              For children aged below 12, they must be tested for Covid-19 72 hours before travelling and have Covid-19-free certificates, Mr Sontaya said.

              Tourists must stay at hotels that have Safety & Health Administration [SHA] hygienic standards certification, and they can use services and engage in activities in areas designated by the hotels, he said.

              They will also be required to report to health authorities via a tracking application every seven days during their stay, Mr Sontaya said.

              The "Pattaya, Move on" project will be implemented under standard operating procedures (SOP) for international arrivals, such as Covid-19 testing and guidelines for sealed routes, Mr Sontaya said.

              He said he also discussed with Thosaporn Sirisamphand, head of the prime minister's advisory team and chairman of the TAT's board a plan to procure more vaccine doses to cover at least 70% of local residents in Chon Buri.

              The proposals will be presented to the Public Health Ministry before being forwarded to the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration for approval next month, Mr Sontaya said.:

              Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


              • Chonburi eases some restrictions effective Monday, June 14th: Pools, foot massage, gyms, and more

                The Chonburi Communicable Disease Committee, chaired by the governor, released the following order effective Monday, June 14th, easing some Covid-19 restrictions.

                The order noted that the situation with Covid-19 was still not resolved but the following venues and items were being eased due to, according to the Chonburi Public Health Office, not majorly being a source of Covid-19 infections.

                Anything not listed in this list remains the same as before.

                1. Massage shops can open for foot massage only. They must ensure proper Covid-19 measures, time spent for massages, masks must be worn.
                2. Swimming pools and water parks can open, however, alcohol is prohibited.
                3. Gyms, fitness centers, sports fields can be opened until 9:00 P.M. Sporting events can be held with limited spectators, there may be other rules that apply for this.
                4. ANY group or organization holding an event or meeting over 50 people is forbidden or needs permission from the relevant agencies and Chonburi officials.

                Welcome back:
                Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                • Chonburi prepares ‘Pattaya Move On’ sandbox in bid to open by August

                  Tourism operators in Pattaya are set to propose their very own tourism sandbox scheme, called “Pattaya Move On”, to the government to consider.

                  Thanet Supornsahatrangsi, acting chair of the Chonburi Tourism Industry Council, said the operators will propose the project to Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn and National Security Council secretary-general General Nattapol Nakpanit next week.

                  Pattaya Move On will allow vaccinated foreigners to enter Chonburi, provided they spend the first three days isolated in the hotel. After that, they will be allowed to travel to Bang Lamung and Sattahip districts, and go even further within the province after 14 days.

                  To kick off the project, 900,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccines are required for the 450,000 residents of Bang Lamung and Sattahip districts.

                  Chonburi is one of the 10 provinces the government is planning to open to tourists without requiring mandatory quarantine from October. The other provinces are Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Phetchaburi, Phuket, Krabi, Surat Thani, Phang Nga and Buri Ram.

                  “We will encourage the government to kick off the project in August, so we can iron out any problems that arise before fully opening the doors,” Thanet said.

                  He expects about 10,000 to 20,000 foreign tourists to visit Chonburi between August and September.

                  “The numbers should rise in October when people from Europe come to Thailand to escape winter,” he said.

                  He added that this project also aims to draw tourists from Singapore, Vietnam, Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, Scandinavia, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Moldova, Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Ukraine.

                  Chairat Rattanopas, president of the Eastern Spa and Wellness Association, said only 6.97 million people visited Chonburi last year, far fewer than the 18.6 million in 2019.

                  “Thai and foreign tourists visiting Chonburi last year generated 66.49 billion baht, a lot less than 276.32 billion baht in 2019,” Chairat said

                  Phisut Sae-khu, president of the Thai Hotels Association – Eastern Chapter President, said only about 100 hotels of the more than 1,000 registered in Pattaya have opened for business.

                  Thitipas Siranatsrikul, chief of the Association of Chonburi Attractions, said some 15 tourist attractions are open for service and Nong Nooch Tropical Garden, Ramayana Water Park, Cartoon Network Amazone, the Sanctuary of Truth and Tiffany's Show Pattaya are ready to join the project.:

                  Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                  • Pattaya independently orders 100,000 doses of the Sinopharm Covid -19 vaccine to expediate Pattaya vaccination campaign

                    Pattaya City has ordered 100,000 doses of the Sinopharm Covid -19 vaccine from the Chulabhorn Royal Academy, confirmed the Pattaya City Mayor today, marking a major step after the Thai government recently allowed private organizations and governments to order Covid-19 vaccines with their own budgets.

                    The Pattaya City Mayor Sonthaya Khunplume told The Pattaya News, “We have ordered 100,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine from the Chulabhorn Royal Academy.”

                    “The vaccine costs 888 baht per dose in which 8.8 million baht has been approved to pay for those vaccines from the Pattaya City budget which we specifically brought together for this purpose and in order to expedite getting Pattaya vaccinated against Covid-19 as soon as possible so that we can fully reopen all business sectors and open the city to domestic and foreign tourists.” The Mayor continued.

                    “About 50,000 people in Pattaya will be vaccinated utilizing this batch of vaccines. This will be in addition to regular supplies of vaccines under the regular government program. There are now an estimated 120,000 people living in Pattaya, which includes the greater Pattaya area of Nongprue, Banglamung, Pong, and outlying areas. About 80,000 people are aged more than 19 years old and would qualify for being able to take a Covid-19 vaccine under current Thai FDA guidelines.” The Mayor explained.

                    “Registration for the vaccines will be online as well as paper registration in local communities.” The Mayor stated, referring to multiple registration campaigns.

                    “When the vaccine arrives in Pattaya, pre-registered applicants will be notified via messages or phone calls.” The Mayor concluded.

                    An exact arrival date of the vaccines was not given or estimated.

                    The Mayor did not specifically address foreigners interested in registering for a vaccine but has previously noted that all foreign residents would be eligible to “eventually” register for a vaccine. The vaccine registration program in Chonburi is currently primarily centered on Thai nationals over the age of sixty or those with certain health conditions in several categories that could cause complications if they caught Covid-19. The current vaccination program is based on house registration in Pattaya although may be opened wider in the near future according to the Mayor.

                    These vaccines will be provided as part of the overall Pattaya vaccination campaign. For people interested in purchasing their own vaccine, such as Moderna, they may be able to register at participating hospitals in the area. As this list of hospitals changes rapidly, we encourage readers to check their own hospitals and check in advance. Supplies could also be a ways off, with some hospitals estimating October.

                    Good for them:

                    Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


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