SINGAPORE - New guidelines to raise hygiene and cleaning standards at hawker stalls are fast taking hold across the island.
The Singapore Food Agency (SFA) said on Sunday (March 8) that about 2,100 hawker and market stalls and 400 coffee-shop stalls have earned the new SG Clean certification that shows they have meet the new standards.
Certification means they have set up processes to ensure that food preparation areas and equipment are sanitised, waste is handled properly and systems are in place to monitor staff health.
The SG Clean campaign was started on Feb 16 to raise cleanliness and safeguard public health amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Eight stalls and one coffee shop in Tampines were given their SG Clean labels by Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat and Tampines GRC MP Cheng Li Hui on Sunday.
Mr Heng said: "When residents feel comfortable that there's a high standard of cleanliness and hygiene, they'll come out and lead lives as normally as possible."
He added that enhanced hygiene standards should not just be a temporary response to the Covid-19 crisis but become a new norm: "We should take this opportunity to raise our standards of cleanliness and hygiene in our neighbourhood and Singapore, keep ourselves a nice, sparkling, clean place in the midst of all these concerns around the world."
Mr Ng Gan Poh, 29, who works at one of the stalls that received the certification on Sunday, said: "It's for our customers' safety; we can prevent food poisoning too, not just the virus."
Mr Heng and Ms Cheng also gave out care packages to about a dozen cleaners in the area as a token of appreciation for their services.
A Tampines Town Council spokesman said: "Since Covid-19, our cleaners have been stepping up their efforts... All these measures double their hard work, and they're also more exposed to risk of the virus, so we want to show them our appreciation."
Ms Cheng added: "We need the cooperation of all stakeholders, such as members of the public and the business community, to safeguard our public health. When our residents play their part, the cleaners can focus on cleaning and sanitising frequently touched areas to keep us safe."