SINGAPORE - Business was not back to usual at Pek Kio Market and Food Centre when it reopened on Friday (May 27) morning, following a two-day closure prompted by an outbreak of gastric flu in the area.
Mr Wu Kim See, 63, who runs an economic rice stall, said that he had served less than 10 customers in four hours, a drop from the usual 30 to 40.
Another hawker, Mr Lee Gim Koon, 56, who sells carrot cake, pointed to the empty tables and said: "It's very quiet, you can see. But I think the residents nearby will come back. The rest might think twice."
But customers told The Straits Times they were not worried about eating at the centre as the place had been thoroughly cleaned.
Said 58-year-old delivery driver Chua Beng Hong: "I come once in a while when I pass by while doing deliveries...I will continue coming if nothing happens to me."
Ms Yvonne Chan, 35, a senior customer service officer who travelled from her home in Little India, said: "Actually, it's not the food stalls that should be blamed. People should also practise good hygiene. I work in a hospital, so I know."
The centre was closed for two days for thorough cleaning and disinfection by the authorities as a precautionary measure after a spate of over 180 cases of the viral illness in the Owen Road area.
During the two days, stall owners and cleaners scrubbed walls, washed toilets and washed the centre's floor.
The Tanjong Pagar Town Council has also stepped up pest control, to control the nuisance of birds and rats at the hawker centre.
Dr Angela Cheong, who runs a clinic at Block 45, Owen Road, alerted the Ministry of Health after she started seeing about 30 patients daily for the infection from May 16, up from the typical five to 10.
Investigations into the source of the outbreak are ongoing.