Coronavirus: Retirees look forward to meeting again after circuit breaker phase ends

A group of elderly men hang out outside Ghim Moh Market on April 8, 2020. PHOTO: JOEL CHAN

SINGAPORE - The battle with boredom is already starting for Madam Chu Wai Ngoh, 75, just two days into Singapore's circuit breaker measures aimed at stemming the spread of the coronavirus.

She is still going out to buy groceries and food in her Tanglin Halt neighbourhood even though she cannot dine in at food establishments and can only get takeaways.

"I know I am not supposed to come outside, but I don't like to stay at home alone too much. There's nothing to do at home and I feel very bored," said Madam Chu in Mandarin.

In fact, the retiree, who lives with her son, used to do much more than shopping and meals while out.

She would spend one to two hours a day hanging out with other senior residents in the neighbourhood after she was done.

They would sit at Tanglin Halt Food Centre or a shelter nearby, sipping drinks and chatting. The food centre is usually filled with seniors during lunchtime, she said.

But a new law passed on Tuesday (April 7) prohibits social gatherings of any size, whether in private or in public spaces.

Madam Chu on Wednesday headed straight home after finishing her errands.

Madam Yip Yeng Lam, 80, said apart from the almost daily gatherings with other seniors, she and Madam Chu, who are neighbours, would also visit each other's homes or chat in common spaces near their block in Tanglin Halt.

She said in Mandarin: "I like to go outside, even if it is just to look around and chat with friends. If I'm stuck at home, I will just fall asleep".

She added of the measures: "I am really looking forward to when this is over."

Safe Distancing Ambassadors and enforcement officers have been deployed to ensure that people are observing the rules.

On Wednesday, a man, 71, had brought a packet lunch to eat at a table in the void deck of Block 28 Bendemeer Road.

When police officers asked him to return home to eat, he refused to cooperate.

A police spokesman said: "The man refused to heed the police officers' advice and shouted at them. He remained uncooperative despite the officers' repeated advice for him to calm down and leave the place."

The man was arrested for disorderly behaviour.

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