Restaurants, markets, shops, salons, sports to reopen 3rd May

 | Thu 30 Apr 2020 16:12 ICT

CityNews – 30th April 2020, according to today’s daily briefing at the provincial hall it was announced that certain businesses will, on the 3rd May, be allowed to open…with many caveats.

It is these caveats which is causing some confusion, especially in the restaurant industry. For instance, restaurants must be outside of shopping malls to open and cannot be larger than the size of two shop houses. This has led many restauranteurs to question the wisdom in opening smaller spaces whereas larger open aired restaurants would perhaps be better suited. Air-conditioning can be used, but will have to comply to guidelines for ventilation – the guidelines have yet to be published. Other sensible precautions such as staff wearing masks, washing hands, social distancing and a policy of one or two people per table will be adopted. All queues must have at least one metre between people and no buffets are allowed, even with the popular hotpots and grills. The government says that it would still like most people to take food home to eat but they want to help the restaurants, hence this compromise.

There will be no punishment by law for any violations, but there will be warnings.

Other businesses which can open include all markets, all food outlets, supermarkets and retail outlets, communication tools shops, parks and recreation areas, outdoors sports such as tennis, archery, cycling and golf, even the golfing range. Hair dressers, beauty salons and pet shops.

“For me this is really difficult,” said manager of Le Crystal restaurant, Riddhi Diskul. “My restaurant is large and open aired, our tables are already over a metre or two apart, but because we are larger than two shop houses does that mean that I can’t open?”

Riddhi says that for a French restaurant such as his, there will be many changes he will have to make to adapt to a new future. “We already follow impeccable international standards of hygiene, so that’s not a problem for us, but we have to think about many other aspects. For instance, our customers tend to come later, say eight or nine, which they can’t do now with curfew so we have to invite them to come earlier. French food is also synonymous with wine, so that is going to be a problem. Yet, I have noticed that there is a loophole in the law in that I can’t sell alcohol, but surely my customers can bring it themselves? One area that I have a problem with is the idea of putting a shield in between all diners which has been floated, but not confirmed. I hope that isn’t going to apply as I am not sure people want to eat with their friends and family separated by a partition. Then there is the issue of imported produce, much of which French cuisine relies on. We find this challenging as we can explore more local produce and change our menu to suit what we have here. Then there is the question of whether people will continue to dine out so much as they did before. There are many questions.”

Papatpim Bhadrakom, the owner of Food for You, a small restaurant which only has five tables, which she will reduce to three, all of which must be pre-booked and only by known customers, has found a silver lining during the pandemic. “We were using social media to update our customers and keep communicating with them and some of our Bangkok customers were yearning for our food, so we began to pack our top dishes such as mangosteen spicy salad with crab meat and the Thai style salmon salad and send them overnight to Bangkok. Our clients love it and we have managed to open up a new market and revenue stream during this crisis and we hope to expand on it.”

“It has been delivery and takeaway until now,” said Rachaneekorn Chirakul owner of Somtam House. “So when we open soon our strategy is to really promote the health quality of our cuisine. That is our strength. We use the freshest and best Thai herbs all made fresh dish by dish. All government protocols and hygiene standards we have met anyway and will continue to meet. It is all about survival now. I do think that Thai people love eating hot fresh food with friends and family, so as long as we observe the protocols then we should be alright. We will all have to adjust.”

Sun Seubsaeng, the owner of Tengoku+Yaki is not so optimistic. “I’m not opening on the 3rd. Or anytime soon. I think that it will take a long long time for people to get back to old habits. Perhaps at least three months, until then people won’t be that comfortable dining out as they did, so we will keep focusing on our food delivery for which we have created an entire whole new menu focused on affordable, comfort food. It won’t be worth it for us to open, what with overheads, and who wants to eat like that, sitting metres apart? Thai people like to eat together, so if they can’t in restaurants, then they will just buy or order the food and invite friends home to eat together.”

After fourteen days the situation will be reassessed by the government.