Covid-19 cluster's impact on sales still felt at wet market stalls, Jurong Fishery Port

Jurong Fishery Port on Aug 6, 2021. The Covid-19 cluster linked to the fishery port was declared closed on Sept 7, 2021.
Jurong Fishery Port on Aug 6, 2021. The Covid-19 cluster linked to the fishery port was declared closed on Sept 7, 2021.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

SINGAPORE - Sales of fish at wet markets are still down, with the impact still being felt weeks after the last new cases linked to the Jurong Fishery Port cluster were reported on Aug 14.

The cluster was declared closed on Tuesday, but stall holders said the current Covid-19 situation meant some consumers are continuing to stay away.

Mr Jimmy Goh, who works at Sin Chwee Mini Market, a fish stall in Bukit Batok, said business has fallen by 10 to 15 per cent since the Covid-19 cluster emerged at Jurong Fishery Port on July 16.

Weekends used to be busy days, but the footfall has been noticeably thinner recently, he added.

A fishmonger at Teban Market Place, who wanted to be known only as Mr Lee, told The Sunday Times: "There are slightly fewer customers now. I think it's the same for everyone. I lost some regular customers - mine are mostly old people. Some aunties stopped coming as their children told them to stay home due to the many Covid-19 cases."

Another fishmonger at Bukit Gombak Wet Market, who did not want to be named, said his business has been badly affected as fewer people are visiting wet markets after stories emerged about the possibility of the virus being spread by people who touched fruit and vegetables or via contaminated surfaces at the port.

Seafood sales at the Jurong Fishery Port have also declined.

Mr Goh Thiam Chwee, managing director of Kah Huat Song Kee Fish Agent, said sales have fallen by about 20 per cent compared with before the cluster hit.

He added: "People are more careful now. They don't buy a lot of supplies to keep and supply to restaurants... like they used to before Covid-19 hit the port. They buy just enough to sell because they know they may need to throw it all away if they have to close shop due to Covid-19 cases."

Safe management measures at the fishery port, such as restricted entry points, testing workers before entry and rostered routine testing, are still in place.

Mr Ang Jwee Herng, president of the Singapore Fish Merchants' General Association, said some older customers who have mobility issues have reduced or even stopped their visits due to the inconvenience.

He said in Mandarin: "A lot of older fishmongers are not buying from Jurong Fishery Port now. Some fishmongers have difficulty moving around themselves, and they think that since business is bad and they're old already, they'll just retire."

Sin Chwee Mini Market's Mr Goh said one bright spot is online sales. The stall's investment in starting an online arm before the pandemic is paying off.

Online orders went up after the cluster emerged at the Jurong Fishery Port, by as much as 20 per cent on some days, and are still going strong.