Brisk business as hair salons, TCM halls and home bakers resume operations

Customers queue at the Snip Avenue hair salon at Bishan Street 13, on May 12, 2020. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO
A woman speaks to staff inside a barber shop asking when they will be open for business at Bishan Street 11, on May 12, 2020. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO
People making purchases from a traditional Chinese medicine shop through the shop gates. ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID
Barbers and hair salons reopen at Block 354 Clementi Avenue 2. ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID
The queue outside a pawnshop in Clementi Town on May 12, 2020. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG
An employee carrying a packet of cat food for a customer at Superpets pet shop on May 12, 2020. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI
Shoppers making purchases at Polar Puffs and Cakes on May 12, 2020. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
Customers at FabricPro Dryclean & Laundry Services at Tampines 1 on May 12, 2020. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - Hairdressing and barber shops saw brisk business on Tuesday (May 12) morning as customers queued to crop their shaggy manes after these premises were told to shut for nearly three weeks.

A line of more than 10 people was spotted waiting outside the Snip Avenue salon at Bishan Street 13, while some of the other salons in the neighbourhood told The Straits Times that regular customers had called ahead to make appointments as soon as it was announced that hairdresser shops could reopen.

Hairdressers are among a group of businesses that are allowed to reopen after being closed from April 22, subject to various restrictions. They were asked to close as part of stricter measures to contain the spread of Covid-19.

These restrictions include the use of a government-backed digital check-in system SafeEntry to record all entries and exits, including of employees and visitors, for digital contact tracing.

For instance, SafeEntry must be installed at hair salons and barbers as people are likely to be in close proximity in enclosed spaces for prolonged periods.

Also, hair salons are allowed to provide only basic haircut services, which is something of a concern to Ms J. J. Loke, 47, manager of De What's Beauty and Salon.

Even though regular customers have been eagerly awaiting for her shop to reopen, Ms Lok said: "There will be limited income from just washing and cutting hair."

Other businesses allowed to reopen include cake and dessert shops, laundry services, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) halls as well as home-based food businesses.

At Clementi Avenue 2, two TCM halls saw a steady stream of mostly regular customers popping by, but both businesses worked a little differently - they sold herbs through gate openings, instead of allowing patrons to step into the store.

Madam Yang, who works at Ban Joo Tong Medical Hall, said that this is a better way to manage the crowd, who are mostly made up of vulnerable seniors. "Of course this might affect our business, but at this point, if we all do our part, we won't have to worry so much," she said.

Wan Seng Medical Hall also had a similar idea, but will allow certain individuals to enter the store only if they are buying a large quantity of products.

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A retiree who wished to be known only as Mr Xie said that he is in favour of the measures. "I think it's good that they are managing the crowd like this. I came down to stock up on medication because I'm so scared of the virus," he said.

For popular home-based food businesses, demand has been so high that there are worries they will be unable to meet demand.

Ms Anisah Shahab, 27, who runs Halwa Bakes, said that she has received a surge in orders, particularly for the days before Hari Raya at the end of the month. "I'd say the demand is even more than I can meet. These coming weeks are going to be really busy for me to fulfil orders," she said.

Deebakes' Ms Adeline Tan, 23, said she is happy that she can resume her business as she wishes to contribute some income to the household. She said: "It doesn't feel great to be the only one in your family not working. I felt very useless, so I was looking forward to finally baking again and earning some income."

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Customers were out and about cutting their hair, buying cakes and pet supplies. We speak to businesses on what the preparations were like and how they complied with safety restrictions.
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