May 15, 2020

Social distancing pandas fill empty seats at Bangkok restaurant

An “X” usually marks the seats in restaurants and other establishments to make sure people are social distancing to prevent spread of the coronavirus. Sometimes the “X” on the empty is marked with red tape, unintentionally sending a negative message. Now one Vietnamese restaurant in Bangkok has found a more fun way to make sure people are sitting apart but still marking the seat spacing.

Big, stuffed panda bear toys are placed in the vacant seats instead. (So far publishers have resisted to use the term ‘food panda’ in the headline).

Natthwut Rodchanapanthkul, owner of Maison Saigon, near Lumphini Park, told Reuters that he thought the red crosses looked a bit strange.

“Earlier we had only one chair for the tables where the customers would sit alone. But for me, it felt strange, so I thought I’d give them some company.”

Thailand has recently lifted restrictions, on restaurants and for some it might be the first time eating at a restaurant since the lockdown. With strict rules and various seats marked with “Xs,” going out for a meal has been a bit daunting.

Photos of people eating next to and across from the pandas look a lot happier. One customer told Reuters the pandas made her feel less lonely while she ate a meal by herself.

The next step in easing restrictions around Thailand is set for this Sunday.

Shopping centres and retail shops plan to reopen but a full confirmation on precisely what will open is yet to emerge from the CSSA… hopefully today.

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