July 15, 2020 / 1:10 PM / a month ago

Thai motor show underway in first big event since coronavirus outbreak

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand opened its twice-postponed annual auto show to the public on Wednesday in the country’s first large-scale event since coronavirus restrictions eased, with nearly all attendees wearing masks and face shields.

A general view during the 41st Bangkok International Motor Show, after the Thai government eased measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Bangkok, Thailand, July 15, 2020. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

Thailand is a major regional car production hub and its previous motor shows booked over a million people in attendance.

Thermal scans were at the entrance to the 41st Bangkok International Motor Show and temperatures were measured as people visited booths, where waiting spots were prepared to ensure physical distancing.

Guests were also required to check-in and out with their cellphones to allow for contact tracing.

“I don’t come to the event every year, but I think for the first day of the event amid a pandemic, people are in quite large numbers,” said Suriya Thanakorn, 50, who was on the lookout for a new car.

Motor shows around the world have been forced to cancel or delay due to the pandemic.

But Thailand has pressed ahead having gone nearly seven weeks without local transmission of the virus, which has infected just over 3,000 people, most of which have recovered.

Chief organiser Prachin Eamlumnow said eyes will be on how Thailand handles one of the first big global shows since the pandemic started.

“No country can arrange an event on this scale, so the other event organizers will be watching,” he said. “We have succeeded in controlling COVID-19.”

There are 25 car brands including Nissan and BMW and 22 motorcycle manufacturers on show at booths with specific entry and exit points to prevent crowding.

Ramesh Narasimhan, president of Nissan Thailand, said the stringent measures should be maintained to ensure good attendance throughout the 12-day event.

“It’s really important for us to keep it for the entire show, but the first signs are very, very positive, so I’m pretty excited about that,” he said.

Writing by Chayut Setboonsarng; Editing by Martin Petty

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