Oddly Enough

Thailand's pet groomer reopens as new coronavirus cases slow

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Chewy and Miley, both two-year-old Schnauzer dogs, are getting their hair cut at a groomer in Bangkok for the first time since the new coronavirus outbreak began in Thailand in January.

Pet grooming shops are among a handful of businesses that the Thai government allowed to reopen this week, following the decline in the number of new coronavirus cases.

Extra precautionary measures that accompanied the reopening to prevent a new round of outbreak mean that the owners of Chewy and Miley are no longer allowed inside the shop.

Instead, they have to make an appointment and pick a hairstyle for their dogs in advance. They then drop off their pooches in a sterilised basket behind a plastic barrier in front of the shop. None of the dogs’ personal accessories are allowed into the shop.

“To me, the possibility of getting infected comes from touching the collars, clothes, crate or bags that owners used to carry their dogs,” said Sukhum Nuangjanpat, the owner of Modern Dog Grooming and School shop.

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“That’s why I ask customers to take back all their dog’s stuff and use only the things that are provided by the shop,” he said.

Inside the shop, dog grooming stations are set up more than a metre apart and the shop closes for an hour after each session to allow all equipment to be cleaned.

“Instead of being able to groom more than 10 dogs during the whole day, we can only take about five in order for us to practise social distancing,” Sukhum said.

Thailand was the first country outside China to report a case of the new coronavirus in January, before the outbreak swept the globe.

The Southeast Asian country reported only a single new case on Tuesday, bringing its total number of confirmed cases to 2,988 with 54 deaths.

Writing by Panu Wongcha-um; Editing by Gareth Jones