Singaporeans still out and about but more cautious as daily Covid-19 cases rise

People at Tampines Mall on Sept 16, 2021.
People at Tampines Mall on Sept 16, 2021. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE
Crowd at Westgate Mall at Jurong East.
Crowd at Westgate Mall at Jurong East. ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

SINGAPORE - Although Singaporeans continue to go out, many are taking more precautions like avoiding crowded areas as daily Covid-19 cases rise.

Mr Edward Pang, 64, retired from being a taxi driver in March last year, fearing he would catch Covid-19 and infect his children.

He said: "I don't go to crowded places any more, but I still go out for essential needs like buying food."

At four shopping malls - Jem, Tampines 1, Century Square and Northpoint City - and at the Singapore Botanic Gardens and a wet market in Yishun last week, The Straits Times found that while there were crowds, people were keeping their distance from others.

Even as a steady stream of customers went into the various shops, many appeared somewhat uneasy being out and about.

Mr Sufiyan Sulaiman, 34, who has a one-month-old son and was leaving Century Square mall after getting his groceries, said: "Since I have a newborn, I've been making it a point to stay home unless really necessary.

"Before this, my wife and I were going to a mall nearly daily. But even if not for him, I would probably cut down anyway since the numbers are going crazy."

Dr Gurvin Gill, 34, who was waiting at a taxi stand at Tampines 1 mall on Friday evening, said over the past three weeks, she has been restricting her movements to just between home and work.

Aesthetician Josephine Teo, 54, said she has stopped dining out with her three children.

At Northpoint City in Yishun, ST observed about 300 people shopping and dining from 5pm to 7pm last Thursday. Groups kept their distance from one another while queueing at stores and restaurants.

A Covid-19 cluster was detected at the mall in April last year, and was closed two months later.

Retired technician Ong Guan Leong, 74, who is fully vaccinated and is waiting to receive the SMS invite to get the booster shot, said he still goes to the library at the mall to read newspapers daily.

Diners at Jem in Jurong East. ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

He said: "I think there's no point being scared because we have to live with the virus anyway."

Housewife Sita Mazumdar, 41, who has two children, was worried about the rising number of Covid-19 cases as her younger child, aged seven, is unvaccinated.

She said: "I try not to go out unless it's required. I always make sure we sanitise our hands."

Chong Pang Market and Food Centre was crowded on Friday between 8am and 10am, with queues forming at food stalls.

The market had shuttered for two weeks in July after being linked to the Jurong Fishery Port and the Hong Lim Market and Food Centre cluster. The cluster was closed on Sept 12 with a total of 1,155 cases.

Mrs Pavani Metikal, 29, a housewife who was passing by the market, said she was more cautious about handling produce.

She said: "I used to touch things more freely when considering whether to buy them, but now I am more careful. I'm already used to cutting down on social activities since the start of the pandemic."

Five parkgoers who were at the Botanic Gardens on Thursday evening said they were not overly worried, citing the open space and fewer crowds. Visitors remained in scattered groups of up to five, and many left before 7pm.

Parkgoers in Botanic Gardens on Sept 17, 2021. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE 

Managing director Namio Ohtsubo, 71, who was walking his dog with his wife, said he had just taken his Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty booster shot on Wednesday.

He said: "We are worried about going out generally, but we still drive here or to Fort Canning Park almost every day to walk the dog. It's open air so I'm not worried about contracting Covid-19 here. I also feel more protected from the booster shot."