The Philippines has been in various stages of lockdown since March, when President Rodrigo Duterte first locked down the country’s largest island, including the capital, Manila.
The Manila salon, Jolog’s Barbershop, is one of many businesses that were forced to close when the virus was first detected, but have since been allowed to reopen subject to stringent health codes and measures.
For decades, Jolog’s has been something of a microcosm of the country, its mirrors reflecting a diversity of faces from across society. But these days, the din of chatter has been silenced, and the few people who nervously trickle in are in no mood for small talk.
Barbers at the shop are required to wear yellow medical coveralls and face shields. A sign taped above a mirror reads, “No face mask, not allowed.” Only four customers can be accommodated at any given time, and they are told to disinfect before entering.
“It’s very hard to get my mind wrapped around this,” the owner, Rollie Magalona, said. “It used to be that we always have customers lined up. Now, we try to stay open until evening, but the streets are already deserted. What is worse, we may also get infected. You never know.”
Even with restrictions in place, the Philippines is struggling to control the outbreak. As of Sunday, the country of about 108 million had recorded more than 300,000 cases and 5,344 deaths, according to a New York Times database.
Already, about 27.3 million Filipinos have lost their jobs because of the resulting economic downturn. In the second quarter of the year, the country entered a recession, dropping 16.5 percent — its worst performance in nearly four decades.