SINGAPORE: Hairdressers and barbers across Singapore took out their scissors for the first time in weeks on Tuesday (May 12), snipping off the overgrown locks of an endless stream of customers, as the Government relaxed some "circuit breaker" measures.
After three weeks of suspension amid enhanced circuit breaker measures announced on Apr 21, certain shops and services were allowed to resume operations on Tuesday - albeit with certain restrictions and precautions.
Basic haircuts at hairdressers and barbers have been allowed to resume, but this must be done within an hour.
Long queues formed early on Tuesday outside no-frills outlets that offer quick haircuts, CNA observed on Tuesday.
A line of 11 people had formed at the QB House outlet at PLQ Mall in Paya Lebar even before the opening time at 10.30am.
Mr Allen Yeo, 56, who started queuing at at 10am, said he wanted to get his hair cut before getting lunch.
"Since I'm the first customer, the equipment must be quite clean," the retiree joked.
READ: ‘Don’t rush to go out’ after businesses reopen, COVID-19 circuit breaker to ease gradually: Lawrence Wong
At SingPost Centre, more than 10 people waited in line for a trim at EC House.
Ms Carina Tan, who was there with her eight-year-old son, said that her child badly needed a haircut.
"It's important for the children's hygiene, it's been so warm!" she said.
At the no-frills outlets CNA visited on Tuesday, most of the people waiting in line were men.
The queues were shorter at full-service hair salons, with most customers calling ahead to make appointments.
One customer waiting for his turn at Apgujeong Hair Studio in Tiong Bahru Plaza said his wife had made an appointment for him.
The 55-year-old man, who requested to be identified as Mr Cheng, said his last haircut was early last month.
“I haven’t cut my hair in a long time and it’s getting ugly, so I thought it might be better to come for a haircut as soon as possible,” Mr Cheng said in Mandarin.
At Kimage Hair Salon in Tiong Bahru Plaza, appointments were fully booked for the week, said salon manager Chris Tan.
But Mr Tommy Chin, manager at Shinka hair Salon at Nex shopping mall in Serangoon said that while customers were returning after reopening, business "has fallen by a lot".
"It's only for haircuts, we can't do rebonding, perming and other treatments," he said.
PET SHOPS, TCM HALLS & CAKES
Besides hairdressers, pet shops and shops selling confectionery and desserts that have been closed since Apr 22 also reopened on Tuesday.
Traditional Chinese medicine halls and home-based food businesses were also back in business, while other shops that were suspended, including bubble tea kiosks, remained closed.
Singapore's extended circuit breaker period remains in force until Jun 1, and selected activities and services are expected to resume in stages over the next few weeks.
Customers also returned to pet shops for supplies they had trouble getting online, with a steady stream of patrons at stores CNA visited.
There was a small queue at Pet Lovers’ Centre in JEM on Tuesday morning but it soon subsided, said area supervisor Grashia Chan.
"For us the home delivery is too overwhelming ... so they (customers) have no choice but to come down to the store to purchase (supplies),” said Ms Chan.
One customer, Ms Karina Lim, 19, told CNA that she was at The Pet Safari at Nex to purchase food for her terrapin, as it was hard to order that online.
Ms Jady Ng, who was at Pet Lover's Centre at Ang Mo Kio, had stopped by after grocery shopping to buy treats for her rabbits.
Customers also stocked up on items such as pet food, cat litter and pee pads, said Pet Lovers Centre marketing manager Christine Tan.
Pet stores are still restricted from providing grooming services but Ms Tan said their shops have been getting queries from customers.
"Those (dogs) with long coats need to be groomed quite regularly, if not their hair gets matted," she said.
At traditional Chinese medical shops, some outlets reported healthy foot traffic.
There were about six people waiting to enter Hock Hua Tonic at Tiong Bahru Plaza when CNA visited the store on Tuesday.
Hock Hua Tonic had put in place several precautionary measures, including limiting the number of people in the store at a time and directing traffic flow within the shop.
Only two to three customers were allowed inside at a time, and they had to walk in one direction around the store, leading up to the cashier, CNA observed.
Like other stores that are open during the circuit breaker period, Hock Hua had SafeEntry digital check-in QR codes at its entrance to record the details of all customers who visited.
Product manager Steve Teng said that some elderly customers had trouble scanning the SafeEntry QR code, but store managers were around to assist them.
“(They) usually (buy) the herbal tea stuff, some medication, dried shrimp and dried scallops,” said Mr Teng.
Malls that CNA visited also had such precautions in place. Customers had to either scan their identity cards or scan the SafeEntry QR code with their mobile phones when entering and leaving the building.
The time of entry and the particulars of each shopper is captured to help in contact tracing in case of a COVID-19 infection. This is one of the technological solutions authorities have implemented to curb the spread of coronavirus in the community.