- Title: Sun, sea and space as coronavirus empties Asia-Pacific beaches
- Date: 10th April 2020
- Summary: BALI, INDONESIA (FILE - JANUARY 31, 2020) (REUTERS) CROWDED KUTA BEACH TOURIST TAKING PICTURE ON BEACH TOURISTS STANDING ON BEACH KUTA BEACH
- Keywords: Australia Bali COVID-19 Easter Indonesia Phuket Sydney Thailand coronavirus holiday tourism
- Reuters ID: LVA002C8WPB2F
- Location: SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA / BALI, INDONESIA / PHUKET, THAILAND
- City: SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA / BALI, INDONESIA / PHUKET, THAILAND
- Country: Various
- Duration: 00:00:28
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Topics: Health/Medicine
- Story Text: Iconic Asian-Pacific coastal destinations - normally a draw for visitors during the Easter weekend - were unusually quiet this year amid government measures aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus.
Bans on public gatherings larger than two forced Sydney's Bondi Beach to close over the Easter public holidays, while on Manly Beach, people were allowed to exercise only - but not swim - on the closed, unpatrolled beach. Australians have been told to stay home or face dire consequences in the crackdown against the coronavirus, even as its spread slows. Australia had 6,152 infections by Friday (April 10) with 53 virus-related deaths.
The co-owner of Bondi Surf Seafoods, George Dimitrios said 2020 was the worst year in his family's 47-year-old business and Good Friday sales had been disastrous.
"We've had the bushfires, we've had the rain and now we've got this," he said.
Bondi made headlines in March when thousands of people were seen ignoring social distancing rules at its world-famous beach. Authorities have since opened up a pop-up clinic.
Just weeks ago, some visitors were complaining that Bali's iconic sand and surf spot of Kuta Beach was way too busy.
Now it is deserted, with access banned as part of measures to curb the spread of the new coronavirus, which has killed more than 89,000 people around the world and infected more than 1.5 million.
Indonesia, the country with the highest coronavirus death toll in Asia after China, where the virus emerged. The virus has killed 306 people in Indonesia from 3,512 cases, but more limited testing than in neighbouring countries means the figures are widely believed to be higher.
But not everyone agrees with the restrictions on the beaches.
Among them was Australian Daniel Baker, who said it would be better to just enforce social distancing of up to two metres (yards) to prevent the virus spreading.
"When I went for a surf last week I was on Kuta reef, one kilometer offshore, the nearest surfer was 200 meters away, so why can't I do that?" he told Reuters. "I should be able to swim or surf, it's important for mental health and exercise to stay healthy to fight COVID."
In Phuket, Thailand, coronavirus has largely eliminated the tourist industry on which it survived. It is now on a partial lockdown to curb the spread of the virus, which has killed 33 people and infected at least 2,473.
"The impact is so severe because most of our customers are tourists," said Ittipat Klomkliang, owner of Campus Coffee Roaster. "From China and now Europe, a lot of the tourists have gone to zero."
The usually busy Walking Street in the Old Phuket Town in now almost empty with many shops shuttered.
(Production: Sultan Anshori, Apichai Thonoi, James Redmayne, Angie Teo, Juarawee Kittisilpa)
- Copyright Holder: FILE REUTERS (CAN SELL)
- Copyright Notice: (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2020. Open For Restrictions - http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp
- Embargoed:24th April 2020 10:18
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: None