SINGAPORE - Entry to shopping malls was smooth on Wednesday (Oct 20), the first day that rules barring unvaccinated individuals from entering malls came into effect, following a one-week grace period.
Malls had been allowed a week to roll out vaccination-differentiated safe management measures, where people's vaccination status will be checked before entry.
Just before noon at Parkway Parade, there were up to 15 people waiting to enter the mall at any one time, with staff conducting meticulous checks at entry points. Despite that, the queue moved quickly.
Queues were shorter at other malls like Nex, AMK Hub and Kallang Wave Mall, but fast moving as well.
Nex has introduced fast-entry lanes for tenants and delivery riders picking up food orders at two entrances in Basement 2, so that these individuals can check in quickly. The lanes were introduced on Oct 13 - the first day of the grace period.
A Nex spokesman said: "This will also lessen any possible congestion at the entrances designated for shoppers to use." He added that checking in via SafeEntry will continue to be mandatory at the mall's fast lanes.
Along with signs to inform shoppers of the measures, the mall has deployed additional staff to assist and guide shoppers to ensure that they are familiar with the new entry process.
"As the safety of our shoppers, tenants and staff continues to be our top priority, we are closely monitoring the situation and will continue to make adjustments for a smooth transition when the measures are fully enforced from Wednesday," added the spokesman.
Kallang Wave Mall also deployed additional staff "to ensure the new processes run smoothly", according to a spokesman.
"The multiple changes in safe management measures can be confusing and frustrating for patrons, especially if there are long queues at the mall's entry points," said the Kallang Wave Mall spokesman.
"There are also concerns that patrons may reduce their mall visits altogether to avoid the hassle of going through these checks, and the lower footfall would naturally affect tenants."
Those doing checks at mall entry points said customers have mostly been compliant and cooperative.
At Kallang Wave Mall, 16-year-old Teo Yong Qi - who has been checking people's vaccination and SafeEntry statuses for the past week - said that there have been attempts by unvaccinated individuals to enter the mall over the past few days.
Yong Qi, who is also a student, said: "Others who wanted to enter the mall were waiting for their vaccination to take effect. As it was during the grace period, we let them in, but reminded them of the new rules. They were cooperative, which we appreciate."
A checker at Parkway Parade, who did not want to be named, said: "Everything has been going smoothly so far. This morning, there was a lady who was unvaccinated and she wanted to bring her children to a childcare centre. We let her in because she had a support letter from the school."
Unvaccinated people who wish to enter shopping malls for essential activities, such as for medical or childcare services, will have to provide proof of their medical appointment or a letter of support from a pre-school or childcare centre.
According to the Ministry of Health's website, those who are unvaccinated can still enter malls if they have a negative pre-event test result or can show proof that they have recovered from Covid-19.
Mall visitors ST spoke to, all of whom were fully vaccinated, were welcoming of the new measures.
Mr Christopher Lee, 57, a retired construction professional who was at Nex to meet a friend, said the new measures are "in the right direction".
"Singapore needs to go back to normal, the restrictions for normal human social activity cannot continue indefinitely," he said. "The hope is that these new restrictions for the unvaccinated will pave the way for more social activities to resume."
Madam Fion Ang, 43, a manager in the automotive industry, said the new rules give her "peace of mind" because she has two young children, aged nine and 11. She was with them at Kallang Wave Mall for breakfast.
"I'm vaccinated so it feels good to be out. I understand why some unvaccinated people may feel unhappy about the new rules at malls, but I think the government is just trying to protect them from the virus," said Madam Ang.