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COVID-19: Public urged to bring along NRICs to supermarkets, malls

SINGAPORE, SINGAPORE - APRIL 6: People wearing protective masks shop in a supermarket on April 6, 2020 in Singapore, a day before a 'circuit breaker' takes effect. The Singapore government will close all schools and most workplaces and limit social interactions and movement outside homes for at least a month to stem the spike in local coronavirus cases. (Photo by Ore Huiying/Getty Images)
People wearing protective masks shop in a supermarket in Singapore on 6 April 2020. (PHOTO: Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — Amid enhanced circuit breaker measures aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19, more supermarkets and malls will be scanning patrons’ National Registration Identification Cards (NRICs) or asking them to enter the NRIC numbers via an online national visitor registration system as part of their contact tracing regime.

Yahoo News Singapore understands that a number of malls and outlets of supermarket chains NTUC FairPrice, Dairy Farm Group Singapore and Sheng Siong have begun scanning customers’ NRICs or asking them to use the government-developed cloud-based check-in system SafeEntry, alongside taking their temperatures.

Among them are NTUC FairPrice outlets at Whitesands, Junction 8, Tanjong Pagar Plaza and Serangoon North Ave 1, Cold Storage outlets at Great World City and Takashimaya, the Sheng Siong outlet at Chin Swee Road, malls ION Orchard and NEX.

By scanning a QR code, patrons can authenticate their visit to a supermarket or mall on SafeEntry via SingPass Mobile or by manually entering their name, NRIC and mobile number.

Last Tuesday (21 April), the authorities announced that temperature screening will be conducted at all supermarkets and malls. Additionally, patrons visiting a list of 16 malls with supermarkets in them and four other non-mall supermarkets with high traffic will also be required to provide their particulars for contact tracing.

When contacted on Wednesday (29 April), a spokesperson for Enterprise Singapore told Yahoo News Singapore, “We are glad to see that many malls and supermarkets have since implemented temperature screening and contact tracing, and understand that the rest will do the same in the next few days.

“We therefore advise customers to bring along their identification card when visiting the malls and supermarkets, so that they will be allowed to enter,” the spokesperson added.

When contacted, an NTUC FairPrice spokesperson said, “The latest initiative to facilitate contact tracing at our stores is in compliance with the latest precautionary measures set by the authorities.”

The spokesperson added, “FairPrice continues to work closely with the authorities and support various measures such as safe distancing, personal protection, as well as enhanced cleaning schedules to protect the well-being of our staff and customers during this period.”

Meanwhile, a Sheng Siong spokesperson said, “All Sheng Siong stores are using the government-developed SafeEntry system to scan customers’ NRIC. We encourage our customers to bring along their NRIC for scanning to facilitate the registration process.

“Customers can also present other forms of photo ID (with barcode) such as driving license, PAssion Card, Senior Citizen Card, Merdeka Generation Card and Pioneer Generation Card for scanning.”

Yahoo News Singapore has also reached out to Dairy Farm Group with queries on the NRIC scanning and contact tracing procedures.

Visit malls, supermarkets alone

The Enterprise Singapore spokesperson also urged the public to only visit supermarkets and malls to buy essential needs such as food and groceries, and to do so alone.

The statutory board under the Ministry of Trade and Industry did not respond to queries on whether it was considering limiting the entry of customers to supermarkets and malls by the last digit of their NRICs, or whether it was considering limiting the frequency of customers’ entries to supermarkets and malls.

Last Friday (24 April), popular baking supplies chain Phoon Huat said it will limit entry to its and RedMan shops based on NRIC or Foreign Identification Number (FIN) number.

The announcement came after the National Environment Agency said last Tuesday that it would restrict access to four popular markets - where long queues were still seen - based on NRIC/FIN numbers: Geylang Serai Market, Block 104/105 Yishun Ring Road (Chong Pang Market), Block 20/21 Marsiling Lane, and Block 505 Jurong West Street 52.

Patrons with an even last digit (0, 2, 4, 6, 8) in their NRIC/FIN numbers can only visit these markets on the even dates of the month, and those with an odd last digit (1, 3, 5, 7, 9) can only visit these markets on the odd dates of the month.

As of Wednesday (29 April) noon, a total of 15,641 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Singapore.

A total of 14 people have died from complications of the virus here while another four patients who tested positive for the virus have died from causes unrelated to COVID-19.

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