Groomed but still grounded: Hairdressers reopen during Singapore lockdown


SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Long queues formed outside hairdressers in Singapore on Tuesday as the government eased some restrictions of a nationwide lockdown, although any styles beyond a trim would have to wait.

“We can only provide haircuts. Dying and perms are off limits,” said Jervis Goh, supervisor at the New Hairstory salon in a residential area of central Singapore.

Laundry services and shops selling pet supplies were among a handful of establishments allowed to resume business on Tuesday, although most workplaces and schools remain closed and dining at restaurants is still banned under lockdown due to last until June 1.

“It feels so light now that I had it cut,” said 85-year-old retiree Pang Kaytee, one of the first in line at the salon. Pang said he last cut his hair three months ago.

Mask-wearing staff inside the 26-seater establishment said they had to restrict the number of customers to six at a time, and each had to register and have their body temperature taken before entering.

The city-state of 5.7 million had 24,671 COVID-19 cases as of Tuesday, one of the highest tallies in Asia, with the vast majority of infections in cramped migrant worker dormitories on the fringes of the island nation. It has recorded 21 virus-related deaths.

Authorities say strict lockdown rules, where residents can only leave there home for essential needs like grocery shopping or to exercise alone, have curbed cases outside of the dormitories.

Staff at other salons across town could be seen disinfecting equipment and chairs just before opening, while tape marked seats that clients couldn’t use to enforce social distancing.

“I feel such relief they are reopening, I have been without a haircut for five weeks, said Muhammad Nor, a shaggy-haired 27-year-old truck driver, waiting outside a barber shop.

“It’s very uncomfortable for me because of the hot weather. I thought about cutting it myself but felt that it wasn’t such a good idea.”

Reporting by Joseph Campbell and Edgar Su; Editing by John Geddie and Raissa Kasolowsky