Day 1 of S’pore’s phase 2 reopening: No big rush as dine-in resumes but queues at malls as shops reopen

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Lunchtime crowds returned on the first day of Singapore's phase two reopening. Customers The Straits Times spoke to say they have been looking forward to eating out again.
Customers dining at a coffee shop in Tampines on June 19, 2020. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI
People eating at the Mayflower Hawker Centre on June 19, 2020. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG
The queue outside Sephora at Nex shopping mall on June 19, 2020. ST PHOTO: KOK YUFENG
People walking through a field, where Kebun Baru Birdsinging Club members have hung up their cages so that the birds can bask in the sun, on June 19, 2020. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG
Madam Lim Chin Kim, the boss of I-Smile Shoes, pasting safe distancing markers on the floor at her shop in Tampines on June 19, 2020. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI
Customers buying footwear at I-Smile Shoes in Tampines on June 19, 2020. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI
People exercising at Bukit Gombak Stadium on June 19, 2020. ST PHOTO: TIM MARSHALL
Patrons enjoying their meals in Simpang Bedok at midnight on June 18, 2020. ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

SINGAPORE - Even though dining in was allowed for the first time in weeks, there was no mad rush for tables at eateries on Friday morning (June 19) as Singapore moved into phase two of its reopening.

At the hawker centres at Bukit Timah Market and in Kovan, queues formed in front of popular stalls but most people were opting for takeaways.

Small groups of friends, mostly seniors, gathered for chit-chat and coffee in Kovan, but they kept to safe distancing measures and stuck to the five-a-group rule.

In phase two, people can meet socially in groups of up to five. This applies to groups who choose to dine in at eateries, which is also allowed now.

A woman in her 50s at Bukit Timah Market, who wanted to be known only as Ms Tan, said that she was "quite scared" that the place would be swarming with crowds. "Actually, it's not bad. Since it's pretty quiet, I think I'll have my coffee here before buying food home for my family."

The relatively cautious approach on Friday morning was quite different from the scene at Simpang Bedok after midnight where people gathered for supper as soon as they were allowed to do so.

Even though it was raining, around 90 per cent of the tables were fully occupied at two late-night joints.

Theatre actor and director Sani Hussin, 46, was spotted having a bite with his friend at Spize Bedok. The last time he was there was before the circuit breaker period, he said.

"This is the opening ceremony that everyone has been waiting for. You know that everybody here has suffered a lot staying home, confined to their four walls. Nothing beats face-to-face interaction and having a meal with friends," he said.

Patrons enjoy a spot of dining-in at Simpang Bedok at midnight on June 18, 2020. ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR
SPH Brightcove Video
From Orchard Road to the heartlands, long queues and crowds formed at shopping malls and shops, which reopened on the first day of Singapore’s phase two. Shoppers and retailers talk about precautions they are taking to stay safe.
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Patrons at the eatery were asked to log their visits via digital check-in system SafeEntry, and had their temperature recorded by staff.

Besides the resumption of dine-ins, retail outlets are also allowed to reopen in phase two, with safe distancing measures in place.

Entrances to Ion Orchard and Wisma Atria from the MRT station were clearly demarcated so that visitors were funnelled through them if they wished to enter the malls.

Meanwhile, outside Nex shopping mall, at least five safe distancing ambassadors were seen on duty. A line of about 20 had formed outside Popular bookstore in the mall an hour before it was due to open.

Also reopening today are sports facilities such as gyms and swimming complexes, including those at condominiums, as well as beaches and playgrounds.

SPH Brightcove Video
Sports facilities opened their doors today, as Singapore enters phase two of reopening. The Straits Times visits Safra Punggol's EnergyOne gym and boxing gym Legends Fight Sport to find out how they are handling the first day of reopening.
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Five-year-old Olivia playing at the playground outside Tampines West Community Club on June 19, 2020. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

At 7.30am on Friday (June 19), Mr Liew Kai Khiun took his 22-month-old daughter Maya to a playground in Potong Pasir, even removing the barrier tape on his own.

Allowing her to play in the playground again was good for the development of her motor skills, said the researcher.

"I really learnt to appreciate the significance of playgrounds after two months of closures," he added.

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