Most Thais still anxious about resuming ‘normal’ life: survey

Red Cross Fair in 2018 at Lumphini Park. Photo: Coconuts
Red Cross Fair in 2018 at Lumphini Park. Photo: Coconuts

Most Thais still felt uncomfortable leaving home to return to pre-COVID-19 lifestyles, a study has found.

Employers should be aware that staff and customers may not be ready to return to the workplace, commute, attend events or even shop like they did prior to the pandemic, management company Qualtrics said on the back of a survey it says found a majority of Thais reluctant to do so without significant precautions.

“Organisations and governments need to understand how employee and customer behaviours and attitudes have changed so that they can take actions helping them feel confident during this next phase of the ‘new normal,’” Mao Gen Foo, head of Qualtrics Southeast Asia, said in a statement. 

Coming on the heels of Thailand’s fourth phase of reopening the economy, the survey results, published Tuesday, found Thais of all ages unprepared to fully embrace a return to the same habits – including one-in-three respondents who believe behavior will never go back to what was “normal.”

It was based on a poll of 509 employees in Thailand and Malaysia, 150 of which were Thai, using Qualtrics’ online survey system. Qualtrics did not say when it was conducted.

Of those, over half of the 62% who expect to return to their workplaces next month said they would be more comfortable doing so after treatment and vaccines become available. Before returning to workplaces, over 80% of workers want coworkers to wear face masks, and over 60% want social distancing, body temperature checks and other measures in place.

Outside the office, 70% said they were uncomfortable attending live concerts and sporting events. Nearly half said they wouldn’t watch sports at such venues until January, and nearly three out of five said the same for concerts.

Although restaurants and malls were allowed to reopen mid-May, 60% of those surveyed said they still felt uneasy dining in and 36% didn’t want to shop at physical stores.

Getting around is a source of anxiety as well, according to the survey. A significant majority – 65% – said commuting via buses or flights was also distressing.

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