BHG store in Bugis Junction closed for cleaning after staff member gets Covid-19

SINGAPORE - The BHG department store in Bugis Junction was shut on Tuesday (Aug 24) for cleaning and disinfecting works, after a member of its staff tested positive for Covid-19.

BHG announced on Tuesday the store closure on its Facebook page, saying its staff member had tested positive the day before. 

“We have since informed all staff who had been in close contact to self-quarantine and undergo swab tests,” BHG said.

It added that the Bugis Junction store will reopen on Thursday.

The news comes as the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Tuesday announced 20 new infections linked to the shopping mall.

A spokesman for Bugis Junction said the mall has “taken the necessary environmental cleaning measures in accordance with the authority’s guidelines”.

They include increasing the frequency of cleaning common touchpoints, and enhancing air circulation in the mall by conducting daily air purging and fully opening air dampers to maximise outdoor air intake.

These are among the guidelines spelt out in a directive issued by the Building and Construction Authority, National Environment Agency and MOH in May.

The suddenness of the news seems to have affected shoppers. Businesses in the mall saw slower sales. 

“Usually, by 3pm, we would have already sold 100 cups of tea. Today, we sold only 40,” said Ms Lee Su Teng, 21, a saleswoman at ShareTea, which is at an open area near BHG.

Nearby, bag accessory shop Bratpack saw zero sales for most of the morning and early afternoon.

“Our business has been reduced by at least 50 per cent. Usually by 3.30pm, we’ll have 15 customers. Today - not even a single one,” said Ms Kam Yok Chan, a staff member at the shop.

Some shops remain hopeful that the footfall will pick up.

“Bugis Junction is quite popular, so (it) having a cluster is a sooner or later thing. I think other malls will face this problem as well,” said a store owner, who would only give his name as Ken. “It’s no big deal. Nowadays, a lot of places are closing down because of the virus. Like I think West Gate was closed twice - even Jewel also got it.”

Staff members working in the mall are taking things in their stride. 

Ms Koong Wei Heong, who works at Ya Kun Kaya Toast in the mall, said: "We are feeling pretty calm because we get tested every two weeks. We were just tested on Aug 20." 

Ms Koong was referring to the fast and easy test (FET) workers in higher-risk settings, like dine-in eateries, have to undergo every 14 days. The FET regime can include antigen rapid tests.

She added that she is waiting to find out if she needs a swab test as well, following the emergence of the cluster linked to the mall.

"Not many people visited the mall on Wednesday. They are probably afraid after hearing news of the cluster," said Ms Koong.