AP Top Stories July 18 P

Here are the top stories for Saturday, July 18: John Lewis, lion of civil rights and Congress, dies at 80; Arrivals for second day of EU summit; Thousands hold anti-government rally in Bangkok; Heavy rains cause flooding in various parts of NZ.

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People queue to enter Siam Paragon mall as shopping centres reopen in Thailand | AFP

Shoppers line up to enter the popular Siam Paragon mall in Bangkok where they get disinfectant sprayed automatically at their feet and temperatures taken before being greeted by staff donning masks with smiley face designs. IMAGES

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Thai temple puts face mask on giant Buddha statue | AFP

A Thai temple near Bangkok has installed a giant face mask on a Buddha statue to encourage the use of facial coverings as the country eases some restrictions.

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Food cupboards on Bangkok’s sidewalks offer relief | AFP

A group of Thai volunteers set up food cupboards – known as the “the pantry of sharing” – on the sidewalks of Bangkok for people affected by the COVID-19 crisis. The main goal is to encourage people to put food in the cupboard to help those most in need get enough to eat.

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From confinement to cuddles: Bangkok cats welcome customers back to their cafes | AFP

Cat cafes are reopening across Bangkok with the felines refusing to maintain the one metre social distance after a month locked inside away from humans. Outside Caturday, the cafe staff take the temperature of the customers before welcoming them inside. The establishment is cleaned several times a day to comply with Thailandโ€™s strict measures for the gradual reopening of the economy. [Burin Janchai, a personal trainer, feels like he is “in another world” when he visits the cafe after a stressful month staying at home.]ca

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Thousands queue for government aid in Thailand as pandemic destroys the economy | AFP

Thousands queue in sweltering heat at the Thai Finance Ministry in Bangkok to apply for a three-month cash hand-out totalling 450 USD (5000 Thai Baht per month). Thai authorities have already approved 13.4 million people – half of the applicants – for the programme, which should benefit around a third of the population.

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Thai authorities test for COVID-19 in Bangkok’s largest slum | AFP

Residents of Khlong Toei, Bangkok’s largest slum, are tested for COVID-19 by Thailand’s Disease Control Department. Home to some 100,000 people, social distancing measures are all but ignored in the slum’s crowded streets. Anyone found to be infected with the virus is transferred to a nearby temple which has been converted into a quarantine facility.

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Bangkok shrine gives dancers face shields | AFP

Bangkok’s famous Erawan shrine, a popular spot for foreign tourists and those seeking to make wishes or prayers, equips its troupe of traditional dancers with face shields as a precaution against the COVID-19 outbreak.

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Stylist gives free haircuts to Thai health workers

A hair stylist in Thailand is boosting the morale of frontline medical workers fighting the new coronavirus by giving free haircuts at hospitals in Bangkok. (May 1)

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A cut above the rest: Volunteer hairdressers help Thai healthcare workers | AFP

Hair salons and barber shops have been closed across Bangkok amid the coronavirus pandemic. To help health care workers get a proper trim, a Thai hairdresser organises a session in a hospital. Half a dozen volunteer hairdressers have given haircuts to healthcare workers at five Bangkok hospitals since early April.

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Bangkok night curfew leaves city highways deserted | AFP

Bangkokโ€™s streets are left eerily empty as the cityโ€™s nightly curfew – from 10pm to 2am – takes effect. Thailandโ€™s capital is normally jam-packed with traffic stuck in long tailbacks.

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Social distancing nearly impossible at crowded Bangkok wet market | AFP

Social distancing measures are all but ignored at Khlong Toei Market, the wet market in Bangkok’s largest slum community. Locals mingle among the narrow alleys lined with fresh produce and live animals, ready for slaughter.

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Coronavirus: Jobless Thais turn to fishing to feed families | AFP

People in Pathum Thani province, an hour north of Bangkok, are fishing to feed their families because of the coronavirus pandemic that has left many Thais unemployed with little money to survive.

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Novice monks in Thailand given faceshields during study | AFP

Bangkok’s Molilokkayaram temple is providing its young monks with faceshields as a precaution amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Thais flock to sell gold valuables as prices spike from pandemic | AFP

Thais flock to Bangkok’s Chinatown to sell their gold jewellery as the price of precious metal spikes and the economy tanks due to the coronavirus pandemic. The price of gold has surged to a seven-year high, following global moves of economic stimulus measures.

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Then and now: Thailand’s Songkran festival | AFP

Empty streets without a beer or a water gun in sight. Bangkok is unusually quiet as the annual water festival – Songkran – is cancelled by Thai government and the city is under lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Alcohol sales are currently banned in the Thai capital, and public holidays have been postponed in order to discourage the wild water fights which usually fill the streets over Songkran.

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Newborns given tiny face shields at a Bangkok hospital | AFP

Newborn babies are being given face shields in an effort to halt the spread of the coronavirus at Praram 9 Hospital in Bangkok. The tiny face guards have been designed by the hospital for use when the baby makes its first journey home.

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Then and now: Thailand’s Songkran festival | AFP

Empty streets without a beer or a water gun in sight. Bangkok is unusually quiet as the annual water festival – Songkran – is cancelled by Thai government and the city is under lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Alcohol sales are currently banned in the Thai capital, and public holidays have been postponed in order to discourage the wild water fights which usually fill the streets over Songkran.

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Coronavirus: rats take over emptied Bangkok streets | AFP

As humans retreat indoors at night to fight a virus, Bangkok’s streets are handed over to increasingly brazen rats who are venturing out across the Thai capital in huge numbers.

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Vending machines distribute face masks made by Thailand convicts | AFP

Vending machines distribute face masks made by prisoners in Thailand at Bangkok airport train stations. The tissue masks priced at 25 THB (0.75 USD) are set to be available at Makkasan station, Lat Krabang station, and Phaya Thai station on the airport link line.

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Coronavirus: Street food carts in Thailand abandoned | AFP

Empty food carts with chairs stacked on them sit in a lot next to a busy Bangkok highway — the latest casualty of a deadly coronavirus which has stunted global travel and economies.

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Thai food delivery drivers adopt social distancing | AFP

As food delivery services thrive in Bangkok during the partial lockdown of the city, one mall has set aside a special area for food delivery workers, adapting its space so that they can sit 1 metre apart as they wait for orders. Big-name restaurants are also turned into a row of small table booths, with staff donning masks and gloves, awaiting orders from equally-protected customers. Besides the row stands the announcer, calling the queue numbers for the takeaways of various menus.

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First Thailand pro-democracy march since 2014 coup | AFP

Hundreds of pro-democracy protesters march on parliament in Bangkok, wearing black T-shirts to mourn the state of Thailand under an army-aligned government, in the first street protest for several years.

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