By Tommy Ardiansyah
BOGOR, Indonesia (Reuters) – Indonesian hair stylist Herman Maulanasyah knows that he may look comical in his makeshift protective gear but he sees that as a small price if it helps protect him and his customers from the novel coronavirus.
Clad in a plastic sheet held together with tape, a ski mask, a gas mask and latex gloves, Maulanasyah, 40, welcomes customers at his salon in the city of Bogor, south of Jakarta, even as the virus spreads across the country.
“Please don’t judge, I’m not making it for fun or to look ridiculous, this is how I show my appreciation to the health workers,” Maulanasyah told Reuters at the salon he has run for 15 years.
Before he starts cutting hair, Maulanasyah sprays his protective gear and his customers’ hands with sanitizer.
He has worn the gear for the past two weeks as part of efforts to cut the risks from the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus that has killed at least 240 people and infected nearly 3,000 in the world’s fourth most populous country.
Health workers in Indonesia have paid a high price, with at least 24 doctors dying from the disease, according to the Indonesian Doctors Association. In Jakarta, 130 medical workers have been infected, according to the city government said.
Jakarta has ordered businesses and schools to close in a bid to contain the virus and it plans large-scale social restrictions enforced by security personnel.
Though Maulanasyah’s salon is outside Jakarta, where many of the cases in the country have been clustered, his income has dwindled from about 500,000 rupiah ($31) a day to 100,000 rupiah ($6.20).
Customer Abdul Rahman Fattah said he felt safer having his hair cut this way but conceded that the cumbersome outfit worn by Maulanasyah meant the result may not always be perfect.
As another precautionary measure, Maulanasyah allows only four people in the salon and urges everyone to keep their distance.
“This is to protect myself because I have a family, my child and wife, therefore I need to ensure my safety at work because I don’t know whether the people who come here are infected or not,” he said.
(Reporting by Tommy Ardiansyah; Writing by Stanley Widianto; Editing by Ed Davies and Robert Birsel)