After chaotic first day, focus shifts to sealing off zone where 2,800 tourists are staying
After a chaotic first day featuring traffic jams at overwhelmed checkpoints, Pattaya City officials have been forced to adjust their lockdown as they try to curb the spread of Covid-19.
In addition to changing the locations of the checkpoints, authorities will focus their attention on securely locking down an inner part of the city where about 2,800 foreign tourists are staying and most of the infections have occurred, starting on Tuesday.
The full lockdown to outsiders began on Thursday with five checkpoints set up on roads leading into the city. But there was an unexpectedly heavy impact on local residents even though they gave full cooperation to officials, Pattaya Mayor Sonthaya Khunpluem conceded on Friday.
People entering the town were being screened at points on five main access routes: Soi Chaiyapornvithee, Motorway Route 2 in front of the Highway Police office, Soi Pornprapanimit, Soi Chayaporn, and Sukhumvit Road near the Office of the Public Prosecutor in front of Na Jomtien temple.
As it turned out, many of the people arriving at the checkpoints had no intention of entering the town, but simply wanted to travel to adjacent areas such as Sattahip, downtown Chon Buri or other municipal areas linked with Pattaya City.
The result was traffic congestion along the roads leading to the checkpoints, said Mr Sonthaya.
This prompted Bang Lamung district chief Amnart Charoensri to call for changes, as his district includes part of Pattaya City. The city communicable disease control committee met on Thursday night to come up with ways to minimise the impacts on people, said the mayor.
The lockdown plan has not been scrapped as the spread of Covid-19 must be contained, insisted Mr Sonthaya, a former tourism minister.
More than 2,800 foreigners are still staying in the inner zone of the town and this is where the new effort will be concentrated. Of the 33 Covid-19 infections recorded in Pattaya, 26 were in this area, said the mayor.
He ordered the five existing checkpoints on the east side of the town scrapped and the barriers removed. New checkpoints are expected to function more efficiently and help prevent the spread of the virus.
The new checkpoints would be set up at Dolphin Circle; the entrance of Pattana Nua (North Pattaya) at the Prinya Sai 3 intersection; Pattaya Klang (Central Pattaya) at Soi Arunothai; Pattaya Tai (South Pattaya) at Soi Kophai; and Jomtien checkpoint on Jomtien Sai 2 Road.
The checkpoints will be manned by combined teams of health officials, Bang Lamung district officials, volunteers and police who will strictly screen people entering the town. They will start operating from Tuesday and will be in place for three weeks or until the situation returns to normal, said the mayor.