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Restaurants and cafes in some parts of the world are opening up after being closed for weeks during the lockdown. One such restaurant in Thailand has come up with an ingenious idea for visitors to not feel lonely whilst observing social-distancing rules. By Upasana Singh

For most people, eating alone in public can be a daunting task. In present times of preventing and curbing the spread of COVID-19, restaurants have to place tables and chairs at a distance whilst following social-distancing guidelines. A restaurant in Bangkok, Thailand is ensuring that customers don’t feel lonely and uncomfortable in this new set up.

 

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Maison Saigon, a Vietnamese eatery is placing stuffed panda dolls alongside customers for a truly safe dining experience. Initially, when the restaurant reopened after Thailand relaxed its lockdown restrictions for businesses, one chair was kept at each table. Natthwut Rodchanapanthkul, the owner of Maison Saigon, felt that this arrangement was quite isolating and so he decided to give customers some company in the form of stuffed animals. He told Reuters, “Earlier we had only one chair for the tables where the customer came alone. But for me, it felt strange, so I thought I’d give them some company.”

This initiative is an amazing way to bring some normality and cheer into the lives of solo diners. The unique company of pandas has been greatly appreciated by customers. Twenty-five-year-old Sawit Chaiphuek said that he is extremely happy to have some company after weeks of isolation. As he has stepped out of his house for the first time in months, the diner added that the doll makes him feel less lonely whilst eating on his own. Another customer said that the new seating rules and arrangements often confuse diners. However, with an army of plush pandas waiting for you to join them, things at this restaurant are much clearer.

 

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However, Thailand is not the only place that is bringing about changes in the typical dining experience. Three-Michelin-star restaurant, The Inn at Little Washington, located in Virginia, USA has added mannequins dressed in 1940s-style attire to solve the problem of social distancing. The mannequins will not only add elements of whimsy and fantasy but will also provide photo opportunities to diners who are eating out for the first time in weeks.

As lockdown restrictions have eased in some parts of the world, these creative and unique experiences offered by restaurants are giving a new meaning to the future of dining.

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