Coronavirus: Business as usual on Sunday at Northpoint, first major mall to be identified as a cluster

The mall was identified on April 25 as a cluster of seven cases by the Ministry of Health. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE - It was business as usual on Sunday (April 26) morning at Northpoint City, the first major mall here to be identified as a Covid-19 cluster.

Most of the eateries, shops selling food items and the supermarket in the sprawling shopping centre in Yishun were open, with shoppers and staff workers saying they were not too perturbed by the news and were confident that safety measures were being taken.

The mall, which is managed by Frasers Property, was identified on Saturday as a cluster of seven cases by the Ministry of Health (MOH).

Previously, on April 17, Northpoint City announced that three of its cleaners were diagnosed on April 14 and 15 with Covid-19.

Contacted on Sunday, it did not give more details of the other cases.

In a statement, a spokesman said that "Northpoint City will continue to operate with safe distancing measures in place".

He outlined the steps it was taking in view of the latest developments. It would roll out UV-disinfecting mobile robots even as "disinfecting and thorough cleaning of the mall" continues. Contact tracing measures using GovTech's app called SafeEntry was also being implemented.

"The health and safety of our staff, tenants and shoppers remain our utmost priority. We will continue to work closely with the authorities to ensure effective implementation of the latest measures."

At around noon on Sunday, shoppers were filing in and out of the FairPrice supermarket located in the south wing of the mall.

One of the shoppers, Mr Amal Krishnan, 35, told The Straits Times that he had only read about the cluster in the news in the morning when he was on the way to the mall.

People entering Northpoint City's south wing at entrance 3 are screened by a thermal scanner on April 26, 2020. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
Shoppers outside a FairPrice outlet in Northpoint City on April 26, 2020. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

"We heard that there were cases before, but we didn't know it was actually a cluster," said the associate director in the banking industry, adding that he would have come to the mall even if he had known earlier.

"If they're taking precautions, I don't see why we shouldn't come down and buy things," he added.

ST understands that the supermarket had not received any instruction from the MOH to close, and so operations were continuing as usual for now.

Staff at eateries and food shops in the mall also told ST that they had not been informed of any impending mall closure.

Prior to Northpoint City, the other malls to have been identified as clusters are Mustafa Centre in Little India and SingPost Centre in Paya Lebar. Mustafa was closed for two weeks, after it was found on April 2 to have 11 cases and is believed to have been linked to hundreds others. SingPost did not stop its mall operations. Its cases were confined to its packet-processing facility.

Madam Lee Ai Cheok, 58, who was also doing her grocery shopping at the FairPrice supermarket at Northpoint, said that she heard of the news of the cluster but would still continue to do her shopping here.

"For me, I do my marketing here usually," said Madam Lee, who lives nearby. "Also, the mall is so big - I also don't know where exactly is (the cluster)."

She added that she would take the necessary precautions such as keeping a safe distance from other shoppers and would visit the wet markets near her home instead, should the mall be shut down.

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