Singapore

Business bustling for salons, TCM chains as they reopen

They are among enterprises allowed to reopen yesterday

Business was brisk at hairdressing salons and barber shops yesterday morning as customers queued - keeping to social distancing - to crop their manes after the three-week shutdown of these premises.

The lifting of the restriction saw a line of more than 10 people forming quickly outside Snip Avenue salon in Bishan Street 13.

Some nearby hairdressers also told The Straits Times they received calls from regular customers to book appointments soon after the May 2 announcement that they could reopen.

Hairdressing salons are among businesses that were permitted to open yesterday after being required to stay closed since April 22, as part of circuit breaker measures.

But they had to abide by various rules to open for business. These include the use of government-built digital check-in system SafeEntry, which records all entries and exits, including those of employees and visitors, for digital contact tracing.

Also, hair salons can offer only basic haircut services, which Ms J.J. Loke, 47, manager of De What's Beauty and Salon, found worrisome. "There will be limited income from just washing and cutting hair."

Other enterprises that can reopen include dessert shops, laundry services, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) halls and home-based food businesses.

At Clementi Avenue 2, two TCM halls had a steady stream of mostly regular customers, but did business differently. They sold herbs via openings in their metal gates instead of letting customers inside.

SAFEENTRY

It is a better way to manage the crowd of mostly vulnerable seniors, said Ban Joo Tong Medical Hall's Madam Yang, who declined to give her full name.

"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."

Major TCM chains said before opening, they put in place safe distancing measures, rostering of split teams and the use of SafeEntry.

Mr James Teo, 49, general manager of Hock Hua Tonic, said its stores opened about two hours later than usual yesterday, to ensure employees had time to be prepared.

The shops were bustling, with many customers buying ingredients for immune-boosting teas.

He said his company lost about $1 million from the closure, even after government support and rental rebates.

For home-based food businesses, demand appears to have surged, with bakers like Ms Anisah Shahab fretting about being able to fulfil orders.

The 27-year-old, who manages Halwa Bakes, said this is daunting in the lead-up to Hari Raya Aidilfitri, which starts on May 23. "These coming days are going to be really busy for me."

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