TraceTogether check-in to be mandatory at markets, food centres; 35 such venues linked to Jurong Fishery Port cluster

TraceTogether-only SafeEntry requirements will be enforced at all wet markets and hawker centres in Singapore. PHOTOS: ALPHONSUS CHERN, LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - Visitors to wet markets and hawker centres will be required to check in with their TraceTogether app or token as part of tighter measures to stem Covid-19 infection, which has so far spread to 35 markets and food centres.

The cases at those places, linked to the Jurong Fishery Port cluster, continue to rise, said Health Minister Ong Ye Kung in a virtual press conference on Tuesday (July 20).

The Ministry of Health (MOH) confirmed 182 new cases of locally transmitted Covid-19 infection on Tuesday. Of these, 142 are linked to the Jurong Fishery Port cluster and 14 to the KTV cluster.

"So slightly higher than yesterday. So that's the not-so-good part," Mr Ong said.

But the silver lining is that the rate of growth has slowed and that a higher proportion of new cases would have been isolated before detection, he added.

In the coming weeks, TraceTogether-only SafeEntry and SafeEntry Gateway check-in requirements will be rolled out at all wet markets and hawker centres islandwide to help in contact tracing, MOH said on Tuesday.

The ministry urged all members of the public to comply with the check-in requirements and to carry their TraceTogether token or keep their TraceTogether app active to facilitate contact tracing.

Explaining the move, MOH said: "Wet markets and hawker centres are places frequently visited by members of the community and are also where many seniors tend to congregate.

"The potential for transmission is high, given the close proximity between individuals or mask-off activities, as evidenced by the recent clusters detected at these settings."

Thus, there is a need to facilitate quicker contact tracing efforts so that potential transmission at these settings can be curbed, the ministry said.

Plans for SafeEntry check-in requirements were initially restricted to just markets with Covid-19 cases.

MOH had said on Sunday that the National Environment Agency and town councils would progressively implement access control with interim fencing and mandatory SafeEntry check-in at markets where Covid-19 cases have been detected.

At Tuesday's press conference, in response to a question on whether there would be a closure of all wet markets to curb Covid-19 transmission, Finance Minister Lawrence Wong said the closure of a market would funnel people towards other markets and cause crowding.

"If we were to close all markets, again, where will people crowd? They may crowd at supermarkets. And if they crowd at supermarkets, will cryptic transmission happen there too?

"So this has always been a challenge we've had with food outlets, particularly markets and supermarkets, because the concern that people may have is that there is going to be a shortage and therefore (they would feel they) must go out and buy."

Read next: What you need to know about Singapore's Covid-19 rules from July 22

Join ST's WhatsApp Channel and get the latest news and must-reads.