Forum: Improve messaging on social distancing

Eateries at Raffles Place Mrt on March 26, 2020.
Eateries at Raffles Place Mrt on March 26, 2020.ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

Recently, I had coffee at a McDonald's outlet in Hougang. In line with the social distancing directive, I conscientiously kept my distance from others.

But a Vietnamese woman sat near me, and I had difficulty communicating with her because of the language barrier. She sat down for about 10 minutes before moving off.

My relief was somewhat short-lived as, not long after, an elderly woman sat down close to me. I had no choice but to ask her to move. She did so reluctantly after I reminded her of the current pandemic.

Social distancing as a tool to fight the coronavirus scourge can be effective, but it is something many might not be used to.

It would also be more effective if it were presented in a simple and easy to understand manner to specific groups of people, such as those not familiar with the local language or those not keeping up with news reports, perhaps even those who may be illiterate.

The messaging should be made readily available. For greater outreach, publicity and education could be generated best by the various grassroots organisations.

Edwin Tan Uak Kwee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 27, 2020, with the headline 'Improve messaging on social distancing'. Print Edition | Subscribe