Lockdown ease raises doubts

Lockdown ease raises doubts

Businesses and customers are split over its merits

Hairdressers show the negative results of their Covid-19 antigen tests at Seacon Square shopping mall in Bangkok on Wednesday. (Photo: Somchai Poomlard)
Hairdressers show the negative results of their Covid-19 antigen tests at Seacon Square shopping mall in Bangkok on Wednesday. (Photo: Somchai Poomlard)

Employees, shop owners and customers at Seacon Square shopping mall on Srinakarin Road in Prawet district are running hot and cold over the government's decision to ease business lockdown measures from Wednesday, allowing so-called "high-risk businesses" to reopen.

They say there are both negative and positive aspects to the decision.

The negative point is that a new wave of Covid-19 might break out, and the positive point is it offers opportunities for people to live a normal life and spend money to boost the economy.

The Bangkok Post spoke to people at the shopping mall, asking them to share their views on the first-day reopening of their businesses.

A 26-year-old employee at a mobile phone and IT accessories shop, who asked not to be named, said that since the mall reopened at 11am, things were still somewhat quiet.

"If you think this is noisy, you might be wrong. Even though there are many people walking by, it is still few compared to before the pandemic," she said.

She said this was just the first day of the reopening but she remained uncertain if the business would be better off in the long run.

"We have to wait some time until we evaluate whether it is good or bad,'' she said.

Since she opened her shop on Wednesday, she had earned only 300 baht from selling IT accessories.

"Customers are better at bargaining than in the past. If a price begins at 250 baht they bargain until they get the item for 150 baht.

"If I do not offer them this price, I end up selling nothing at all,'' she said.

Shopping mall closures might be on the cards as infections in the country were still hitting more than 10,000 cases a day.

"I don't think this reopening will last long," she said. "A new cluster may happen again when they allow crowds of people into the mall."

A housewife, 54, was resting after grocery shopping, waiting to meet her sister well away from the entrance.

"I am afraid to walk here. As you can see, people walk in and out all the time. People get really close together.

"I try my best to stay away from the crowd as I could get the virus from them," she said.

She said her husband and her children used to regularly go shopping at this mall but during these times they dared not leave home.

"I don't think this reopening will last long. People are still getting infected and people are buzzing here, which is a good place for the virus to spread and mutate,'' she said.

However, Pranom Yomchan, 62, a socks and handkerchief shop owner in the Klong Thom zone of the mall, was optimistic about the reopening of her shop on Wednesday.

"I expect to get around 1,000 baht today from selling these products," she said. "Some days in the past I used to earn that."

Ms Pranom said that even if Covid-19 cases were rising, she was confident the reopening would last as people now know more about how to take care of themselves and comply with the government's measures to curb the spread of Covid-19.

"I received my first shot at Bang Sue Grand Central Station and the Klong Thom market office is monitoring our health," she said.

"They even ask us to have an ATK test once a week. Therefore, we have much better protection than before; we can open [the mall] for longer than before."

A retired official, 67, said the reopening has brought back her joy of going out to sip some coffee as she is a "cafe hopper".

"For the two months that they closed the mall, I felt like I was imprisoned. I could only talk to my cats.

"When the mall reopened, I hurriedly came here and became a cafe hopper again, like I used to to after I retired from my job,'' she said.

Asked about the Covid-19 disease, she said she had no fears about contracting the virus as she had been fully vaccinated.

The Center for the Covid 19 Situation Administration decided last Friday to lift some of the lockdown measures.

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