Queues form at malls as vaccination status checks begin under new Covid-19 measures

Mall patrons queueing to get their vaccination status and SafeEntry checked at the entrance of Heartland Mall on Oct 13, 2021. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

SINGAPORE - Some malls across the island started putting up signs and notices from Wednesday (Oct 13) to inform shoppers that only those vaccinated will be able to enter.

At Nex mall in Serangoon, mall staff were seen putting up signs that read "Mandatory - entry for fully vaccinated shoppers only" at the entry points.

Meanwhile, Certis Cisco security officers were deployed at the entrance of Bedok Mall to check the vaccination status of customers.

Under stricter rules announced by the Government, unvaccinated people will not be allowed to enter malls and large standalone stores from Oct 20, with exceptions made for those who show proof that they need medical or childcare services.

Children aged 12 and below, unvaccinated people who have recovered from Covid-19, and those with a negative pre-event test (PET) result will also be permitted entry for the duration of the activity or service.

The measures were due to take effect on Wednesday, but a week's grace period from Oct 13 to Oct 19 was given to enable malls and large stores to adjust to the new restrictions.

During the grace period, malls will be required to check patrons' vaccination status but can let in those who do not meet the requirements. They also have to remind patrons of the new rules.

When ST visited two other malls on Wednesday, their staff were seen struggling with the influx of patrons as they manually checked the patrons' vaccination status.

At Junction 8, a queue formed at one of the entrances after 10am, as most people activated their TraceTogether app to show their vaccination status only when asked.

Notices on the vaccination-differentiation rules were also being set up at the entrances.

The notices stated that children aged 12 and below will be required to show their student pass for identification while food delivery personnel not in uniform need to show proof of the pick-up via their food delivery app. Those working in the mall have to show their mall entry pass.

Some patrons thought the new measures should have been announced earlier to give people more time to get fully vaccinated.

A man in his 40s who wanted to be known only as Mr Lau said: "This is bad policy planning... The measures should have been announced long ago, three to four weeks before roll-out so people can get fully vaccinated with both jabs first."

He also did not see the necessity for more checks inside the mall, such as at the eateries.

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"It is ridiculous to have your vaccination status checked multiple times within the same building and it will only cause bottlenecks," he said.

At VivoCity, there was also a queue waiting to enter the mall from a HarbourFront MRT station exit from 10am despite the mall stationing two staff members to check shoppers' vaccination status.

Some patrons, like retired polytechnic lecturer Lau Chung Sing, 75, did not mind the wait to enter the mall.

"I feel safer with these new measures," he said. "It's so easy to contract the virus these days at crowded places like food courts, so I'm quite worried. But I still have to get my food."

Certis security officers (in black) were deployed at the entrance of Bedok Mall to check the vaccination status of people entering on Oct 13, 2021. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

An unvaccinated patron who wanted to be known only as Ms Sue, 40, is making the most of the current grace period for malls before the rules kick in on Oct 20.

"I'm going to go out every day this week to meet people, and use up some vouchers," said Ms Sue, who was worried she would be stopped from entering malls on Wednesday.

She added that she will also be going to Spotlight at Plaza Singapura to "stock up on things I cannot get next week".

She does not plan to get vaccinated, saying: "I'm not going to get vaccinated because we have to continue getting booster shots. When they force us to take booster shots every six months, you don't know what they are going to do next."

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