Bangkok reopens with stylists in scrubs, plastic screens between diners

BANGKOK: Businesses reopening in Bangkok on Monday (May 4) after weeks of near lockdown were taking intense precautions to prevent new outbreaks of the coronavirus.

One restaurant placed home-made plastic barriers between tables to ensure customers maintained distance.

A hair salon could be mistaken for a medical ward, with stylists wearing goggles and plastic face shields and scrubs-style protective gowns.

For the foreseeable future, such scenes will be normal in the city where business is just getting going again now that new coronavirus cases have sharply reduced.

At the Hanji restaurant, which serves Taiwanese-style hot pot dishes, plastic screens had been set up between tables in line with government orders to keep customers two metres apart.

The spread of the coronavirus in Bangkok

People have lunch in a Taiwanese hot pot style restaurant that reopened after the easing of restrictions with the implementation of a plastic barrier and social distancing measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in Bangkok, Thailand. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

“It’s kind of weird walking in and there’s plastic everywhere,” said Soranan, 30, an office worker.

But he understood the importance of safety.

“So, it might be weird in the beginning but take some time, I think people will get used to it and it will feel normal one day,” he said.

The restaurant’s Thai co-owner, Ittinun Trairatanobhas, said he and the staff built the barriers from plastic sheets and tubing.

“We follow all the rules that the government handed out and the Bangkok city gave out … Whether it could prevent COVID-19, we cannot really tell,” Ittinun said.

Elsewhere in Bangkok, a hair stylist at the Zahara Salon worked in protective goggles, a cloth mask and a plastic face shield as well as a gown and plastic hair cap.

“It’s so nice being back at work, but now we feel as though we are doctors with what we have to wear,” said stylist Ponpimon Meantaggi, 34.

Hair stylist Ponpimon Meantaggi

Hair stylist Ponpimon Meantaggi poses in a face mask and goggles to prevent the spread of the coronavirus at the Zahara Salon in Bangkok, Thailand. REUTERS/Matthew Tostevin

Thailand in January was the first country outside China to report a case of the new coronavirus that since swept the globe, infecting 3.5 million and killing 460,000.

READ: Thailand reports 18 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths

The Southeast Asian country has so far managed to hold its own cases down to 2,987, with a total of 54 deaths, but officials warn that reopening should be done carefully to avoid a new outbreak.

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