Thai massage parlours reopen as country eases COVID-19 lockdown

Thousands of Thai massage parlours re-opened today (June 1) as the country eased its coronavirus lockdown measures. Officials said they were moving into the third phase of lifting strict Covid-19 prevention measures which have been in place since March. New daily infections were in single figures, or falling to zero, for most of May and many of those were from repatriated nationals. More than 200,000 massage workers can now start earning again with shops allowed to operate legally for the first time since March 18. A national curfew has also been shortened to 11pm until 3am and bars remain closed. Dr. Akom Praditsuwan, deputy director-general of the Department of Health Service Support, said massage parlours would have to comply with strict rules. They include all staff and customers having to wear masks, temperature checks and customers scanning a tracing app or submitting their name and phone numbers when they enter. There can only be one customer, or masseuse, per booth and massage chairs for must be 1.5 metres apart. Dr. Akom Praditsuwan said that ''small talk'' between customers and massage staff was only banned as the droplets in the air could spread the disease. More than 15,000 massage shops are believed to have re-opened, however, saunas, soapy massages and steam rooms remain banned. Jai, the owner of a massage shop on the Sukhumvit Road, said: ''The pandemic has affected my business very badly. There has been no income for me or the staff, so everybody has suffered. ''We're happy to be able to open again and we will follow all of the government rules.'' Thailand has recorded 3,082 cases of Covid-19 and 57 deaths. Tourists are still banned from entering the country and repatriated nationals are held in mandatory quarantine facilities for 14 days.