Asia

Thais seek sun and surf as officials reopen some beaches

PATTAYA: People returned to some of Thailand's famed sandy beaches Monday (Jun 1), keeping well apart but enjoying the outdoors, as authorities eased some COVID-19 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, as pensioners eager for exercise promenaded along the beach.

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Social distancing rules still applied, with local authorities ordering beachgoers to stay at least 1m apart.

German expatriate Heidi Glemeau, one of the first people who took an early morning dip in the water, said she stopped at the sight of the empty, open beach on her way to the bank.

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

READ: Thailand passes record stimulus package to combat COVID-19 impact

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People have drinks by the beach in Pattaya on Jun 1, 2020. (Photo: AFP/Mladen Antonov)

Not all beaches were closed during the lockdown, and not all reopened Monday.

Phuket, in the south, is still off-limits, while sleepy 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 famed beaches.

Despite recording the first case of the virus outside epicentre China as early as January, official records show the kingdom escaped the worst of the disease relatively lightly, recording just over 3,000 infections and 57 deaths.

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

READ: Walls close in on Thailand's poorest as virus shrivels economy

People enjoy the beach in Pattaya on Jun 1, 2020. (Photo: AFP/Mladen Antonov)

Regardless, the exodus of foreigners and a ban on new arrivals hit the economy hard – particularlyRead More – Source

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