Weekend entry restrictions lifted at Geylang Serai Market, but footfall limited by capacity caps

Long snaking queues formed outside Geylang Serai market on the morning of Sept 12, 2020. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

SINGAPORE - The lifting of entry restrictions on weekends at Geylang Serai Market came into effect on Saturday (Sept 12), but stall owners say the move has not affected footfall, as capacity caps are still in place.

"It doesn't make a difference. The safe distancing ambassadors are very strict with controlling the crowd, so it's not like more people can come into the market now," said Mr An Raihan, 35, who runs a sundry goods stall.

The same sentiment was shared by vegetable stall owner Haled Aidil, 59, who said that while there continued to be long queues to enter the market in the morning, the inside of the market was "very empty".

He lamented: "This doesn't make much sense to me, because there is no control on the number of people upstairs on the second floor."

The second floor of the market is a bustling food centre.

Geylang Serai Market is one of four popular wet markets that had imposed entry restrictions allowing people to visit only on odd or even dates depending on the last digit of their identity card number. The others are Chong Pang Market at Block 104/105 Yishun Ring Road and the markets at Block 20/21 Marsiling Lane and Block 505 Jurong West Street 52.

The restrictions were first implemented in April, but were eased for weekdays from Aug 13.

Starting Saturday, weekend restrictions were also eased, although there is a cap on the number of people allowed in at any one time.

When The Straits Times visited Geylang Serai Market at 8am, long snaking queues to enter had formed, although the inside of the market looked spacious, with no issue of room for patrons to observe safe distancing. Safe distancing ambassadors were spotted all around the area to ensure that visitors maintain a 1m distance from one another.

A long snaking queue at Geylang Serai market on the morning of Sept 12, 2020. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

By the lunch hour, the queues had disappeared and crowds thinned, possibly also dampened by the rainy weather.

Fruit seller Kadariah Shamsudin, 62, welcomed the easing of measures, even if it did not appear to immediately improve business.

She said: "I'm happy about it. It means we're getting closer to returning to a normal way of life, and that's always a good thing."

Shoppers such as Madam Neha Agarwal, 47, agreed. She is happy that her husband, whose NRIC last digit is different from hers, will now be able to join her on weekend market trips. "Finally, he can help me carry my things," said the housewife, who visits the market once a week.

As the lifting of entry restrictions may mean longer queue times at the four popular wet markets, the National Environment Agency on its website advised shoppers to visit them during weekdays and non-peak hours, and to refer to the Space Out site to check the crowd level, such as the length of queues, before heading over.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.