SINGAPORE - Visiting the Chong Pang City Wet Market is a daily routine for housewife Sum Kwai Siong, but the risk of Covid-19 infections from crowds expected over Chinese New Year is keeping her on edge.
"It would mean a longer waiting time to buy what you want. So I would wake up earlier and go to the market just to avoid the crowds," noted Ms Sum, 46.
Concerns emerged when large crowds were seen at the wet market at Chinatown Complex last week, with many out to stock up for Chinese New Year.
The Sunday Times visited the Chong Pang City Wet Market on Thursday (Feb 4) and the Teck Ghee Court Market and Food Centre on Friday (Feb 5).
Safe-distancing posters and bright red and yellow floor markers to indicate one-metre distancing were seen around the Chong Pang complex and SafeEntry QR codes were at the main entrance.
The public could enter the market from any entrance before the barricades were put up at 7am, when there were about 60 to 80 customers inside.
But when barricades went up at 7am, only one entrance and exit was available.
Several safe-distancing ambassadors were at the entrance to help shoppers check in using their NRICs or the TraceTogether app.
Mr Yap Ching Liang, 27, who runs a seafood stall in the market, said he would have about 300 customers a day before the pandemic, but now sees about 150.
Most shoppers said they visit the market because they live nearby and the produce is fresh and varied.
Precautions were also in place at Teck Ghee Court Market. Crowd controllers from Ang Mo Kio Town Council said that 180 people are allowed inside at any one time.
It was not crowded at 7am on Friday with only about 50 customers.
A National Environment Agency (NEA) spokesman said the access control with interim fencing is implemented to prevent overcrowding at the markets and ensure everyone's safety.
Access controls are lifted at the Chong Pang and Teck Ghee markets at 11am when the morning rush eases up, but they can be reimposed depending on the size of crowds.
The NEA said that if there is overcrowding in certain areas of the markets, patrons may be stopped from entering even though it has not met the maximum capacity.