Free testing for 45,000 cleaners, stallholders, food delivery crew

Employees and stallholders at hawker centres and coffee shops, as well as food delivery riders, queueing to be tested for Covid-19 in Marine Parade last month in a pilot swab-testing initiative.
Employees and stallholders at hawker centres and coffee shops, as well as food delivery riders, queueing to be tested for Covid-19 in Marine Parade last month in a pilot swab-testing initiative.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

Free Covid-19 testing will be offered to more than 45,000 stallholders and their assistants, cleaners and food delivery personnel from now until the end of the year as part of efforts to contain possible hidden cases in the community.

The one-off test will be conducted for individuals working at 110 hawker centres and markets and more than 1,120 coffee shops, as well as food delivery riders working in those places.

Testing is voluntary, but the workers are strongly encouraged to get tested to protect themselves and their loved ones, the National Environment Agency (NEA), Singapore Food Agency (SFA) and Enterprise Singapore (ESG) said yesterday.

Starting yesterday, more than 2,200 stallholders, stall assistants and cleaners working at 11 hawker centres and markets, and 82 coffee shops in Ang Mo Kio GRC, Kebun Baru and Yio Chu Kang, as well as food delivery riders, were slated to be tested.

The tests will be conducted until today at screening centres set up near the hawker centres and markets.

Today, five screening centres - running from 10am to 4pm - will be set up in the Ang Mo Kio area, including Ang Mo Kio Central Stage and Block 214 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3.

Officers from NEA and SFA, grassroots leaders as well as hawkers' and merchants' associations have been reaching out to the target groups in these areas since last Saturday. ESG has also informed food delivery companies about the testing exercise.

This wider roll-out of testing follows a pilot swab-testing initiative conducted at some hawker centres, markets and coffee shops in Marine Parade last month.

Beyond Ang Mo Kio town, NEA is talking to town councils and hawkers' and merchants' associations in other parts of Singapore to identify suitable sites, dates and timings for testing.

The plan is to cover the remaining hawker centres, markets and coffee shops before the end of the year, said the three agencies.

Feedback from those who took the test in Marine Parade will be considered for the wider testing. These include scheduling the tests on weekdays, when the workers will be less busy. The screening centres will also be set up close to each hawker centre and market where possible.

Information on the test schedules and locations of upcoming screening centres will be provided when ready.

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said last month that the Government will consider expanding the testing scheme to other groups, including university students in hostels.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 16, 2020, with the headline 'Free testing for 45,000 cleaners, stallholders, food delivery crew'. Print Edition | Subscribe