Cape 'Coronasaurus' unmasked: meet the woman cracking up local shoppers

10 May 2020 - 00:00
Michelle Roodman, who is brightening up the lockdown for many by dressing in her inflatable T-Rex costume, delivers one of her face masks to Andrew Barkley.
Michelle Roodman, who is brightening up the lockdown for many by dressing in her inflatable T-Rex costume, delivers one of her face masks to Andrew Barkley.
Image: Esa Alexander

When the going gets tough, the tough dress up in comical costumes.

Cape Town-based businesswoman Michelle Roodman has gone shopping dressed as the Easter Bunny, and any number of fantasy characters. But this week she waddled into her local Pick n Pay in Plumstead in a T-Rex costume, and Coronasaurus — as she was dubbed after stunned shoppers uploaded videos of her onto social media — was born.

Business took a hefty dip for Roodman, who owns an engraving business, when the lockdown started. Spotting a gap in the market, she began making black “ninja-style” face masks which could be customised to satisfy the inner nerd.

Her new online business was plodding along until Wednesday, when a dinosaur suit changed everything.

After she was filmed trying to buy cat food in the blow-up T-Rex suit, people started insisting on buying their masks from Coronasaurus — and the name stuck.

Turns out it was bloody hard to buy cat food — it’s the small arms that make it difficult
Michelle Roodman aka Cape Town's Coronasaurus  

“I was just trying to do something fun, to make people laugh. I’ve been going to that store with my gran since I was little. Turns out it was bloody hard to buy cat food — it’s the small arms that make it difficult — and people were on the ground laughing.

“So now we deliver our masks in the suit; it works as a safety suit, too.”

The most popular custom-mask requests are for Deadpool and Wonder Woman.

But delivery can come with challenges.

“You can’t drive when you have tiny arms, you can’t reach the gear stick. My husband [Shaun] has to drive. I just take the suit off halfway and then when I get to people I inflate it again. It’s very quick to inflate.”


Roodman says it is important for people to keep their spirits up during the lockdown. “People are frustrated and the lack of vitamin D from being confined indoors also makes us more depressed. We need to make sure we don’t spiral into depression. Our people are vulnerable to the virus.

“People need to remember to wear masks. They don’t have to be mine, but the sooner we get the number of infections down, the sooner we can go back to work. Otherwise you’ll be seeing the Coronasaurus for many months.”


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