Red or white wine? At the Olympic Hotel he comes in a hazmat suit

BEIJING — The Chinese who work in protective gear against hazardous materials inside the closed-circuit “bubble” of the Beijing Olympics do not hesitate to be photographed. In fact, they seem to welcome it, showing pride in carrying out a nationwide COVID-19 control mission.

Associated Press photographer Jae C. Hong spent time around Beijing’s Shangri-La Hotel, one of the city’s top destinations for out-of-town guests. It is also a hotel inside the Olympic bubble, accessible to athletes, Olympic officials and journalists.

Everyone seems approachable. The scenes are incongruous for foreigners enjoying an evening meal of Beijing’s famous roast duck.

The waiters and waitress dress head to toe in puffy white suits – with blue pinstripe trim – hands covered in sticky plastic gloves, shoes enclosed inside the overalls and masks in place behind plastic face shields.

Everyday pleasures like a cup of coffee or a glass of wine become exotic when the waiter arrives, seemingly straight from a disaster movie set.

The industrial-like emphasis on safety and sanitation contrasts sharply with the hotel’s opulence with its massive chandeliers and displays of Chinese art hanging above overstuffed sofas and lounge chairs.

Apparently, the suits only take a few minutes to put on, and none of the wearers seem the least bit uncomfortable in the safety gear. Several staff members said they are not supposed to talk to reporters and that they kept their word.

But they all offered signs of punching when they approached, and one of them flashed five fingers when asked how long it took to put on the suit.

A woman in hazmat suits watching curling on a big TV screen said this when asked if she understood the rules: “No”.

When asked why she was watching, she laughed and replied, “China is playing.”


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