Thais head for movies and massage as virus lockdown eases


  • World
  • Monday, 01 Jun 2020

A therapist wearing a face shield does traditional Thai massage to a customer in a Health Land brach massage house which reopened after the Thai government eased isolation measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Bangkok, Thailand, June 1, 2020. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thais took in a movie and enjoyed foot massages in a welcome return on Monday to some pampering and popular pastimes as coronavirus restrictions further eased and new infection numbers remained low.

Shopping malls stayed open later, a curfew was shortened and more businesses reopened, among them fitness clubs, spas, traditional massage centres and cinemas.

Thailand has so far recorded 3,082 confirmed cases and 57 deaths, with no local transmissions in the past seven days and many cases in recent weeks found in quarantine among Thais returning from abroad.

Thai masseuses wearing plastic face shields and masks rubbed the toes of contented customers, who relaxed in reclining chairs with large spaces in between. Plastic floor mattresses were disinfected regularly, ready for the next customer.

"I've been waiting to get a massage for a long time, so I decided to come on the first day it reopened," said Nattida Kittipongpattana, who drove one hour to get her feet rubbed.

Masseuse Suratsawadee Pokapanich said all measures were being taken to keep clients healthy.

"We avoid any massage that gets close to the neck and facial area," she added.

Cinemas reopened with strict social distancing and limits of 200 people in each theatre, and empty seats on either side of each customer and an empty row in front.

Staff with gloves and face shields performed temperature checks on everyone entering the theatre. After each screening, staff in full-body protective suits sprayed disinfectant along each row of seats.

Narute Jiensnong, chief marketing officer Major Cineplex, said social distancing requirements meant VIP treatment for customers.

"These measures will make people confident to come back to cinemas and we also have partitions to make it more exclusive," he said.

(Reporting by Jiraporn Kuhakan; Writing by Martin Petty; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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