SINGAPORE - Long queues have been spotted at bubble tea shops across many parts of the island as Singaporeans try to get their last fix of the sugary beverage before the stores temporarily shut their doors at 11.59pm on Tuesday (April 21).
On Tuesday night, the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) said in a statement that all standalone food and beverage outlets, as well as hairdressing and barber shops, will have to shut until May 4, for now.
The announcement was part of a further tightening on businesses deemed essential during Singapore’s circuit breaker, which has now been extended by a month until June 1.
Long queues were spotted at a LiHo bubble tea outlet at My Village in Serangoon Garden and Gongcha's bubble tea shop in Toa Payoh following MTI's announcement.
At a LiHo shop in Yishun Avenue 6, over 40 people, including delivery drivers, were spotted waiting for their drinks. There was also a long line of about five cars pulled up along the road in front of the shop.
A delivery rider, Mr Alif Haikal, said that he had been waiting for more than 25 minutes for two orders of bubble tea at the outlet to deliver to customers. Usually this would take only five minutes.
The 31-year-old said: "Since 5pm, I've started to get at least two orders for bubble tea from various shops every hour - I didn't think much about it until I heard at around 8pm that bubble tea shops would be closed on Wednesday."
While delivery business was good on Tuesday, Mr Alif is worried about how the move to shut bubble tea stores would affect his income, adding: "About 50 per cent of my orders come from drink stalls, so this will definitely affect people like me."
The MTI announced that for the food and beverage sector, standalone outlets - excluding those in hawker centres, foodcourts and coffee shops - that sell only beverages, packaged snacks, confectioneries or desserts will have to shut until May 4, for now.
All other food establishments that sell meals including hot or cooked snacks or breads may remain open for takeaway and delivery services only.
Additional restrictions on selected consumer-facing businesses will also be put in place to further reduce customer interactions.
The list of activities that will be allowed to continue to operate will be updated at this website.