An aerial photo shows the main beach in Pattaya on June 1, 2020. Authorities lifted coronavirus restrictions for all the beaches in Thailand's Pattaya for the first time in more than two months.
AFP/Mladen Antonov
Thais seek sun and surf as officials re-open some beaches
Jonathan Klein, Pitcha Dangprasith (Agence France-Presse) - June 2, 2020 - 7:47am

PATTAYA, Thailand — People returned to some of Thailand's famed sandy beaches Monday, keeping well apart but enjoying the outdoors, as authorities eased some coronavirus restrictions for the first time in more than two months.

In Pattaya, visitors marvelled at the clarity of the turquoise-blue waters of the Gulf of Thailand, and pensioners eager for exercise promenaded along the beach.

Social distancing rules still applied, with local authorities ordering beachgoers to stay at least a metre (three feet) apart.

German expatriate Heidi Glemeau was one of the first to take an early-morning dip in the water, and couldn't believe how empty it was.

"I couldn't resist the temptation," she told AFP. "It's become a paradise — just like it was 30 years ago."

Not all beaches were closed during the lockdown, and not all re-opened Monday.

Phuket, in the south, is still off-limits, while  Hua Hin remained open throughout.

Thailand has been under various lockdown restrictions since mid-March, when authorities declared a state of emergency against the coronavirus -- shuttering malls, leisure centres and public spaces, including its beaches.

But the number of new infections slowed in May, and on Monday cinemas as well as tattoo and massage parlours across the kingdom were given the green light to return to business. 

"I think it's been long enough," said Nutthawut Kanasup, 29, who waited for a foot massage at a downtown Bangkok spa. 

Student Prayos Plodchai, who had tickets for US blockbuster "Bloodshot", said he was not very confident about the hygiene standards at Central World mall's cinema.

"But I'm willing to take the risk because I've been stuck at home for so long," the 19-year-old said. 

Official records show the kingdom escaped the worst of the disease relatively lightly, recording just over 3,000 infections and 57 deaths.

Some experts, however, say a lack of testing may mask the true toll.

Regardless, the exodus of foreigners and a ban on new arrivals hit the economy hard — particularly as the country is so reliant on tourist dollars in resorts such as Pattaya.

Tourism revenues dropped by 40 percent in the first three months of the year, and the government has warned the virus's impact on the second quarter will be more severe.

A major tourist destination with an infamous nightlife and red-light district, Pattaya has turned into a virtual ghost town.

Bars and clubs remain shuttered, and it is not clear when normal activity will resume.

NOVEL CORONAVIRUS THAILAND
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: July 3, 2020 - 8:42pm

Follow this page for updates on a mysterious pneumonia outbreak that has struck dozens of people in China.

July 3, 2020 - 8:42pm

The novel coronavirus has killed at least 521,384 people since the outbreak emerged in China last December, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP on Friday. 

At least 10,887,320 cases of coronavirus have been registered in 196 countries and territories. Of these, at least 5,585,100 are now considered recovered. — AFP

July 3, 2020 - 5:13pm

The Department of Health says there are 1,531 additional cases of the coronavirus disease, bringing the total number of COVID-19 infections in the Philippines to 40,336.

400 patients have recovered while six died from the deadly virus.

July 3, 2020 - 9:05am

The US notches more than 53,000 new COVID-19 cases in 24 hours Thursday, a tally by Johns Hopkins University shows, a new one-day record as infections surge around the country.

The Baltimore-based university's tracker shows 53,069 more cases as of 8:30 pm (0030 Friday GMT), bringing the total number of cases since the pandemic reached the US to 2,735,339.

The university also records a further 649 fatalities, bringing the total death toll to 128,677.

The second consecutive day of a record-high case count comes as the United States — the hardest-hit country in the world in the coronavirus pandemic — heads into the July Fourth holiday weekend. — AFP

July 3, 2020 - 7:33am

The novel coronavirus has killed at least 517,416 people since the outbreak emerged in China last December, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP at 1900 GMT on Thursday. 

At least 10,769,890 cases of coronavirus have been registered in 196 countries and territories. Of these, at least 5,454,100 are now considered recovered.

The tallies, using data collected by AFP from national authorities and information from the World Health Organization (WHO), probably reflect only a fraction of the actual number of infections. — AFP

July 2, 2020 - 5:26pm

The Department of Health reports 294 more COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of COVID-19 infections to 38,805 in the Philippines. 

There are four new deaths and 235 new recoveries.

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