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Patrons Urged To Wear Masks When Visiting Markets

10 Apr 2020

Given the crowded and closed-in environment in markets, all patrons should wear mask for their own safety and well-being, as well as that of other patrons. From 12 April 2020, patrons without masks would be refused entry at 40 markets with crowd management system in place.

Singapore, 10 April 2020 – 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. This move is to safeguard the health and well-being of all stallholders and patrons at our markets. From 12 April 2020, the National Environment Agency (NEA) will not allow patrons who are not donning masks to enter the 40 markets managed by NEA or NEA-appointed operators, which are relatively popular and tend to attract crowd over the weekends.

2          These 40 markets have in place crowd management measures, such as controlled entry and exit points. Since the elevated set of safe distancing measures were put in place on 7 April 2020, more patrons have been observed to be following safe distancing measures and the overall adherence rate has increased. However, there are a few hotspots where the markets still attracted big crowds over the weekends, and long queues formed outside the markets after the allowable capacity of the markets has been reached. These include the markets at Geylang Serai, Block 505 Jurong West St 52 and Block 104/105 Yishun Ring Road. We seek patrons’ understanding that limiting the crowd capacity of markets is necessary to ensure that there is enough space for patrons to maintain the 1 metre separation between persons, especially when patrons are at the stall front making their selection or purchase. Patrons are also advised to return 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.

3       NEA recommends members of 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 these 40 popular ones, which tend to have larger crowds.

Enforcement at markets and cooked food sections of hawker centres

4          Since 9 April 2020, NEA’s enforcement officers has 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 members of the public at markets and cooked food sections of hawker centres on 10 April 2020. These included a case where a market patron claimed to be unaware of safe distancing requirements and remained non-compliant, even after a stallholder also assisted our 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, where our officer was verbally abused and shouted at by the couple. These are just two cases of non-cooperative persons for which police activations had to be made today.

5          On 10 April 2020, 338 NEA enforcement officers were deployed to conduct compliance inspections at markets and cooked food sections of hawker centres, with the support of 201 SG Clean Ambassadors. To date, 83 markets already have queue markings in front of stalls to guide patrons to maintain at least 1 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.

6          Dining-in is disallowed at the dining areas of cooked food sections of hawker centres, with effect from 7 April 2020 to 4 May 2020 (inclusive). During this time, no one should gather or loiter at the dining areas of our hawker centres. While most patrons have been observed to be orderly when queueing for take-aways, there are some patrons who were found to disregard the safe distancing measures and even consumed food or drinks at the dining areas. 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. The cooperation of all patrons, as well as stallholders, is required so that further stricter measures will not be necessary beyond the current circuit breaker to halt the transmission of COVID-19 in Singapore.

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