Enhanced crowd control measures for Little India in run-up to Deepavali

This is the second year the major Hindu festival is being celebrated in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.
This is the second year the major Hindu festival is being celebrated in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.PHOTO: TAMIL MURASU

SINGAPORE - Enhanced safe management measures will be in place at Little India in the lead-up to Deepavali to prevent overcrowding, the authorities said on Monday (Oct 18).

Barriers will be put up at the popular pedestrian crossing of Campbell Lane and Serangoon Road between 6pm and 1am from Oct 29 to 31, said the Singapore Tourism Board (STB).

The same crossing will also be blocked off from 6pm on the eve (Nov 3) of Deepavali to 2am the next day.

This is as more visitors are expected in Little India in the run-up to the Festival of Lights.

"Human traffic will be redirected to two other crossings at Sungei Road and Dunlop Street," it said.

"This will ensure that crowds are spread across the precinct and prevent choke points during peak periods."

STB added that it will be working with businesses in Little India to ensure that they do not extend their wares onto the pedestrian walkways, as this may narrow the lanes and lead to crowding.

Some businesses will also extend their operating hours to allow shoppers to spread out their visits.

Mr C. Sankaranathan, chairman of the Little India Shopkeepers and Heritage Association, told The Straits Times: “We are now shifting to a new normal of living with the virus. In such a scenario, we need to allow a normal lifestyle and festival activities with sufficient safe measures in place.

“The (enhanced) measures are an attempt in that direction," he said, adding that the association will encourage businesses in Little India to be more proactive in reminding visitors to observe safe distancing measures.

This is the second year the major Hindu festival is being celebrated in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.

While the night bazaar remains suspended this year, visitors can enjoy food trails, heritage tours, cooking demonstrations, treasure hunts and competitions such as a TikTok dance challenge.

Deepavali, which celebrates the triumph of good over evil, falls on Nov 4 this year.

Last year, bazaars or festival villages were not allowed, though some stalls were permitted to extend their footprint out to the street so as to accommodate crowds.

Then, STB had also deployed more enforcement officers and safe distancing ambassadors during peak periods leading up to Deepavali to help with crowd management.

Eight people were each issued composition fines of $300 in late October and early November last year for failing to comply with safe management measures while in Little India.