Living with housemates in service line, foreigners working here take precautions against Covid-19, Singapore News & Top Stories

SINGAPORE – Some foreigners working in service roles here are not overly concerned about catching Covid-19, despite living and working with other customer-facing front-liners.

Many of them have been taking the necessary precautions at work, such as washing their hands more frequently and checking their temperature daily. They also keep conversations with household contacts to a minimum, instead spending most of their free time resting or chatting online with their families back home.

This comes after a new Covid-19 cluster was discovered at a barber shop in Bedok. The cluster at Atatcutz Singapore now has six cases as at Saturday (June 5).

Three of the infected barbers are young Malaysians, aged 24 to 27. Two of them live in the same household, along with a 46-year-old Singaporean woman from the cluster who also tested positive for the virus.

A customer, a 26-year-old Malaysian delivery rider for Pizza Hut, and his housemate, a 35-year-old Malaysian colleague, are also in the cluster.

When contacted, Atatcutz Singapore did not reply to queries. However, the shop’s recent Instagram posts appealed to customers to be understanding during this time.

“No one wanted to be in this situation, not the customer and definitely not our barbers,” it said. “This is also not the time to point fingers.”

The shop had taken precautions, including making customers wear their masks at all times, registering customers and shortening the duration of its services to “ensure reduced contact time”, it noted.

Hair salons told The Straits Times that they have implemented similar measures, from temperature checks to observing a safe distance, to safeguard their staff and customers.

At Kcuts express hair salons, for instance, customers are asked to wait outside till their turn and to keep their masks on during the haircut.

Besides masks, face shields are offered to staff who want extra protection. Certain outlets do not operate all cutting stations due to safe distancing requirements.

Mr Samuel Pei, director at hair and beauty chain KC Group, which runs Kcuts, said front-facing staff “deserve our utmost respect” for offering essential services to the community despite the risk of infection.

“Many of them don masks while standing on their feet for the entire workday to cut hair for our customers,” he added.

Many foreigners working in service roles also live with housemates who are in the same line. They usually see one another briefly at night, interacting when they feel the pangs of homesickness, workers told ST. But most spend their free time resting after a long day at work.

At Kcuts express hair salons, for instance, customers are asked to wait outside till their turn and to keep their masks on during the haircut. ST PHOTO

Malaysian national Anie Foo, a sales assistant at mobile phone shop Edge Comms 3, does not go out of her flat unnecessarily, as she is worried about contracting Covid-19.

The 28-year-old, who is from Negeri Sembilan and shares a rented room with another Malaysian, said she makes an effort to observe good hygiene habits wherever she goes, such as washing her hands regularly.

“We also want this pandemic to be over, so we can go home and visit our families,” she said.

A hairdresser, who wanted to be known only as Ms Lin, 29, takes turns to clean the common areas of the apartment she shares with three fellow Chinese nationals, who also work in the service sector.

“We try to take care of each other here, because it can be a big problem if one of us spreads the virus to the others,” she said.

Hawker assistant Jay Lim 34, who is from Selangor in Malaysia and lives with three Malaysian housemates, said: “Nobody wants to get this virus. If we fall ill, then we can’t work and earn money for our loved ones.”

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