Brisk business at popular wet markets after Covid-19 entry restrictions lifted

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SINGAPORE - Business was brisk on the first day of entry restrictions at four popular wet markets being lifted as customers flocked back to their neighbourhood marketplaces to buy fresh produce while still taking care to maintain social distancing.

Entry to these four markets at Geylang, Yishun, Marsiling and Jurong had been restricted since April 22, with alternate-day entry allowed to people based on the last digit of their identity card number.

One of the visitors on Thursday (Aug 13) was private tutor Amanda Wong Su-Lyn, 29, who was at the wet market at Yishun with her mother, who is in her 60s.

"I was expecting there to be huge crowds, but there weren't - I think people have gotten used to timing their visits and are keeping away when they see too many people entering the market," Ms Wong said.

On Thursday (Aug 13), entry restrictions on weekdays were lifted following a noticeable reduction in weekday queues.

The four wet markets are Geylang Serai Market, Chong Pang Market at Block 104/105 Yishun Ring Road, the market at Block 20/21 Marsiling Lane and the one at Block 505 Jurong West Street 52.

But the restriction will remain in place on weekends, and other measures such as the use of SafeEntry for contact-tracing, and social distancing guidelines, like keeping 1m away from other patrons, will remain in place.

Ms Wong was also among those who were relieved that these restrictions have been lifted, so she can visit the wet market on weekdays whenever she likes.

"Sometimes you might run out of that one ingredient that you want at home. We've got used to going to FairPrice or other supermarkets, but visiting the wet market is a different experience altogether," she said.

The Straits Times visited Chong Pang market on Thursday morning, and found a steady stream of people entering the market despite the drizzle, but crowd control was manageable, and entry was orderly.

"I feel relieved that we are allowed to enter the market on any weekday. Say if something's not in the kitchen, I used to have to plan way in advance just in case I couldn't enter the market on that day due to restrictions," said retiree Aminah Osman.

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Shoppers at the entrance of Chong Pang market at around 10am on Aug 13, 2020. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

Said housewife Gertrude Tan: "I have to drive here all the way from Woodlands, so previously I'd need to plan in advance, and look out for 'odd days' before driving in or I wouldn't be able to enter the market. With the restrictions lifted, it'll be more convenient."

But some stallholders are worried that the restrictions might have caused a permanent dent in the market's crowds - and their business.

"It's quite empty still, maybe it's because this is just the first day. So maybe it's unpredictable - maybe tomorrow there'll be more people," said butcher Jiang Yi.

"Technically because of IC restrictions, there have been a lot of people that stopped coming to the market entirely; they'd rather go to FairPrice," he added.

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