Since diners at hawker centres and coffee shops share the same tables, chairs, tableware and food trays over and over, the authorities should regulate their cleaning to curb the spread of Covid-19 and other diseases.
Tableware and food trays should be washed with automatic dishwashers after every use. Steam or hot water will effectively kill germs.
Manual dish-washing is only as good as the cleaners who do the washing. Very often, I have found food remnants and stains on manually washed tableware at coffee shops and hawker centres.
Food trays are often not thoroughly cleaned until the end of the day.
Automatic dishwashers will also reduce the manpower needed to wash the dishes and, therefore, the need for foreign labour.
Sanitising stations should be set up for diners to dip their cutlery into pots of boiling water before use.
Cleaners should wash their table cloth with clean water after each use.
Diners should also be encouraged to stop spitting or throwing used tissue paper into tableware and onto food trays and tables, and to stop placing cutlery directly onto used food trays before use. These unsavoury dining habits help germs spread via contact.
Creative mobile campaigns should be set up at hawker centres and coffee shops to engage stakeholders and persuade them to change their cleaning and dining habits.
A hygienic dining environment is critical in our fight against Covid-19 and any future epidemics, especially since Covid-19 will be endemic.