“It is so empty now,” one shop owner lamented.
“There are no tourists due to the COVID-19 situation and local people are staying home as much as possible to help prevent the spread of the disease, and local many local shopowners have keep their doors closed since they were ordered to close,” he said.
Although the lockdown has been mostly lifted and people have flocked to shopping malls, shops in the Phuket Old Town area have been forgotten.
“We used to rely on tourists, but now there just aren’t any around, the shopowner said.
The shops that have opened are abiding by the "new normal” health regulations.
“We have to in order to boost confidence among people to come to our stores,” the shopowner, who asked not to be named, said.
“Every shop has alcohol gel available for staff and customers, and any customers who do not wear the face masks are not allowed to enter the shop,” he said.
All the shopowners in the area have also taken the time to make sure all staff are fully aware of what is required in order to follow the new rules, he added.
““All shops in the area are now doing this… The training includes making sure customers follow the new health rules, such as allowing only a limited number of customers into the shop at any one time and that social distancing is followed,” he said.
Other “old norms” are also no longer allowed, the shopowner noted.
“For example, shops selling fabrics used to allow tourists to try on different clothes to see how they looked on them. They used to walk around and have pictures taken, but that is no longer allowed.
“A customer must now buy the fabric or outfit first, and if the clothes made don’t fit properly we can make alterations, but any fabric cannot be returned to the store. Once a customer has tried on an outfit, it is considered used and can no longer be sold on to another customer,” he added.
But those once-busy days seem a long way away.
“When the tourists do return, this will be our ‘new normal’. This is how we have to do things now,”’ the shopowner concluded.
- Narongsak Saengsidam