COVID-19: No entry to markets, supermarkets, shopping malls for those not wearing masks

Staff Writer, Singapore
·Editorial Team
·5-min read
People, wearing face masks as a preventive measure against the spread of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus, shop for food items in the Geylang Serai market in Singapore on April 8, 2020. (Photo by Roslan RAHMAN / AFP) (Photo by ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP via Getty Images)
Patrons wearing face masks at the Geylang Serai market (PHOTO: Roslan Rahman/AFP via Getty Images)

[UPDATE: Customers to wear face masks when visiting supermarkets, convenience stores, pharmacies and shopping malls.]

SINGAPORE — From Sunday (12 April), customers who are not wearing face masks will be refused entry into supermarkets, convenience stores, pharmacies and shopping malls.

In a joint statement on Saturday evening, Enterprise Singapore and Singapore Tourism Board said that the measure is to safeguard patrons’ own own health and well-being, as well as that of other customers and staff working at these premises.

On Friday, the National Environment Agency (NEA) had announced that patrons who are not wearing masks will not be allowed to enter 40 of the more popular and crowded markets in Singapore. This will take effect on Sunday.

These 40 markets will also have in place crowd management measures, such as controlled entry and exit points.

In a media release, NEA said that the move is to safeguard the health and well-being of all stallholders and patrons during the enhanced safe-distancing period to curb the spread of COVID-19.

“With re-usable masks being made available to Singapore residents, patrons should don a mask when visiting markets, given the generally crowded and closed-in environment in markets,” it said in the media release.

The 40 markets are: Tiong Bahru Market, Bukit Timah Market, Tanglin Halt Market, Geylang Serai Market, Taman Jurong Market & Food Centre, North Bridge Road Market & Food Centre, Beo Crescent Market, Kallang Estate Market, 409 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10, 505 Jurong West Street 52, 13/14 Haig Rd, 4A Eunos Cres, 104/105 Yishun Ring Rd, 137 Tampines St 11, 630 Bedok Reservoir Rd, 209 Hougang St 21, 453A Ang Mo Kio Ave 10, 527 Ang Mo Kio Ave 10, 628 Ang Mo Kio Ave 4, 341 Ang Mo Kio Ave 1, 20 Ghim Moh Road, 29 Bendemeer Road, 49 Sims Place, 254 Jurong East St 24, 448 Clementi Ave 3, 50A Marine Terrace, 160/162 Ang Mo Kio Ave 4, 115 Bukit Merah View, 726 Clementi St 2, 79 Redhill Lane, 105 Hougang Ave 1, 16 Bedok South Rd, 216 Bedok North St 1, 58 New Upp Changi Rd, 335 Smith Street, 347 Jurong East Ave 1, 20/21 Marsiling Lane, 665 Buffalo Road, 221 A/B Boon Lay Place, 127 Toa Payoh Lor 1.

Hotspots where markets attract big crowds on weekends

NEA said that, while more patrons have been observed to be following safe-distancing measures, there remains a few hotspots where the markets still attracted big crowds over the weekends. Long queues formed outside the markets after the allowable capacity of the markets has been reached.

These include the markets at Geylang Serai, Jurong West Street 52 and Yishun Ring Road.

Patrons are advised to return on another day if the queue outside the market is too long. If the ground situation at these few hotspots does not improve, NEA would consider even stronger measures to reduce crowding both inside and outside these markets.

NEA also recommends the public to:

  • Wear a mask when visiting all markets;

  • Visit markets on weekdays and non-peak hours on weekends, wherever possible;

  • Visit markets once a week, and not everyday or even every few days;

  • Refrain from lingering in the market when buying groceries. Make a list of the items which are required, purchase them promptly and leave the market.

For patrons in vulnerable groups such as the elderly, NEA strongly encourages them to seek assistance from other members in the household or neighbours should they require to buy food from the market.

Patrons should also consider visiting markets other than the 40 popular ones, which tend to have larger crowds.

68 enforcement actions taken on Friday

Since Thursday, NEA’s enforcement officers have started to take down the particulars of anyone found to be in breach of elevated safe distancing measures, without first issuing a verbal warning.

A total of 68 enforcement actions were taken against the public at markets and cooked food sections of hawker centres on Friday.

These included a case where a market patron claimed to be unaware of safe distancing requirements and remained non-compliant, even after a stallholder assisted the officers to remind the patron.

Another case involved a patron who sat in the cooked food section of the hawker centre waiting for the spouse; the NEA officer was subsequently verbally abused and shouted at by the couple.

83 markets with queue markings

To date, 83 markets already have queue markings in front of stalls to guide patrons to maintain at least one metre separation from one another, including the 40 markets which also have crowd management measures in place.

In particular, patrons buying vegetables and fish should observe safe distancing when making purchases, and not crowd in front of the stalls.

NEA is monitoring the situation at markets closely, and will take strict enforcement as necessary on persons who intentionally do not practise safe distancing and are non-compliant.

Dining-in is also disallowed at the dining areas of hawker centres, with effect from 7 April 2020 to 4 May. During this time, no one should gather or loiter at the dining areas of the hawker centres.

All patrons and visitors are reminded to follow the guidance and instructions of NEA officers. Non-compliant patrons and visitors may face enforcement action, including a composition fine of $300 or prosecution in court.

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