Coronavirus: Singapore

Despite wait, crowds still throng Peninsula Plaza, Lucky Plaza

Long queues seen outside both malls amid strict safe distancing measures

Left: A safe distancing officer keeping an eye on shoppers as they entered Lucky Plaza yesterday. Below: Police officers were seen managing the crowd outside Peninsula Plaza.
Police officers were seen managing the crowd outside Peninsula Plaza.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG
Left: A safe distancing officer keeping an eye on shoppers as they entered Lucky Plaza yesterday. Below: Police officers were seen managing the crowd outside Peninsula Plaza.
A safe distancing officer keeping an eye on shoppers as they entered Lucky Plaza yesterday. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Crowds continued to flock to Lucky Plaza and Peninsula Plaza yesterday, with long snaking queues seen outside both malls.

Within the malls, the situation was more manageable, with enough space for shoppers to move around.

When The Straits Times visited Peninsula Plaza at about 4pm, huge crowds were seen outside both entrances of the mall, with people standing shoulder to shoulder, jostling to get into the building.

Shortly after, police officers arrived and turned away a large group of people. Security guards cordoned off the entrances and told people to return an hour later as there were too many people in the building.

Braving the hour-long queue was 37-year-old domestic worker Wim May and her friends. She said: "It is usually crowded every weekend, but I want to buy traditional food, so I have no choice. I would like to come every weekend, but I have cut down (my visits) because I am a little worried about the crowds."

Queues were also seen outside Lucky Plaza, with safe distancing officers keeping a close eye on the line of people entering the mall.

Shouts of "one line, one metre" rang out, with those who crossed the 1m safe distancing mark being called out and reprimanded.

On April 10, the authorities lifted weekend entry restrictions on Lucky Plaza and Peninsula Plaza, which are popular with migrant workers.

Under the restrictions, which had been in place since last August, entry to these malls on odd and even dates were based on shoppers' identification numbers.

Last Thursday, Lucky Plaza was added to Space Out, a website by the Urban Redevelopment Authority that allows people to check the real-time crowd situation at places they plan to visit before heading down. Peninsula Plaza is currently not listed on the website.

Space Out, which was launched in April last year with the aim of reducing overcrowding at public spaces, has data for 71 malls - up from 50 when it was first launched.

Lucky Plaza was listed as "not crowded" on the website at about 2.30pm yesterday.

Both malls had safe distancing officers, some armed with walkie-talkies, patrolling the building and chasing people away whenever they were seen idling on corridors or chatting with their friends.

Mr Daniel Wong, who sells phone accessories at Lucky Plaza, said: "Before this, there would be small groups idling at this open space and chit-chatting, but now they will be chased away. It may not be good for business but it is more spaced out now. Safety comes first."

But not everyone felt the same way, with some shopkeepers saying that the measures were driving away customers.

Mr Gary Li, 33, who manages a souvenir shop, prefers the odd-even entry system, which he said made it easier to manage crowds. "Now, they may close off the mall whenever the crowds get too big, and people may not want to wait for the mall to reopen," he said.

Similar safe management measures were seen at Peninsula Plaza. A safe distancing officer stationed on the ground floor told shoppers idling at the railings on the upper floors that loitering was not allowed.

Staff at both malls also made shoppers check out of the SafeEntry system when leaving.

Mr Myat Minsoe, 50, who runs a minimart in Peninsula Plaza, said the mall was slightly more crowded compared with when the odd-even system was in place.

"It is obviously not as crowded as pre-Covid because now there are time constraints and the number of people allowed to come in is limited. But the crowds are picking up, so business is a little better."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 26, 2021, with the headline 'Despite wait, crowds still throng Peninsula Plaza, Lucky Plaza '. Subscribe