S'pore businesses keen to send staff to quick test centres to check for Covid-19 but waiting for more details

Two former outdoor bus terminals in Tekka (pictured) and Yishun have been converted to quick test centres. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

SINGAPORE - Small businesses near Singapore's first two quick test centres (QTCs) said they are keen to send their staff for regular Covid-19 tests at the centres, though most are still unsure of the exact arrangements and some have concerns.

Two former outdoor bus terminals in Tekka and Yishun had been converted into these centres when The Straits Times visited them on Sunday afternoon (June 20).

White sheets shielded most parts of the centres in Yishun Central and Tekka Lane from public view, but areas with rows of plastic chairs and sections with various lanes could be seen.

From mid-July, it will be mandatory for those working in settings with unmasked patrons, or where there is prolonged contact between individuals, to be tested every two weeks. They include workers at dine-in eateries, hairdressers, spas and gyms.

These tests are expected to be self-administered. QTCs support small businesses that are unable to organise supervised self-swabs on their own.

The QTCs in Yishun and Tekka will be operational from Monday, with more of such centres to be progressively set up.

The Straits Times understands that testing at both centres will be based on appointment. Most shops ST spoke to in the centres' vicinity said they have not been asked to send staff for tests at the QTCs yet.

Mr Faizan Hanif, 31, director at hair salon Zulu Style in Race Course Road, hopes to send his staff of 10 to the centre as it is convenient.

"We are a small shop, so it's difficult to carry out the testing ourselves," he said.

Likewise, Royal Unisex Beauty Salon near the Tekka QTC is opting to send its one hairdresser for Covid-19 tests at the centre instead of training him to do self-swabs.

"We don't have the knowledge to do it ourselves and we might not be able to apply the test properly," said owner Mike Harikrishnan, 43.

The director of hair salon Zulu Style in Race Course Road intends to send his staff of 10 to a centre as it is convenient. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

But he hopes that the process will familiarise his employee with the testing procedure so he can do the test himself in the future.

Mr Mohd Amin, 58, owner of Lam Spa, which employs an administrative worker and two massage therapists, hopes the regular testing will give customers greater peace of mind.

"We have regulars, but they don't come very often as they are a bit scared of the virus," said Mr Mohd, who has already been contacted about sending his staff for tests at the QTC and has submitted the necessary documents.

"If we do it ourselves, we have to buy our own test kits. We are also not experienced so it might not be accurate, whereas the Government has expertise to carry out the tests," he said.

The owner of Lam Spa hopes the regular testing will give customers greater peace of mind. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Spa chain Spa Alangkaara, which has a branch in Yishun Central, however, hopes to try to conduct its own Covid-19 tests for staff so as to minimise their interactions with others.

Owner S. S. Malarckodi, 55, said she recently hired a worker with healthcare experience and is putting her in charge of the testing to ensure they are done properly.

She hopes that the Government can subsidise part of the costs for the test kits. "In the short term, it is okay. But you don't know when Covid-19 will end," she said.

Ms Gina Lim, 60, owner of Wei Soon Beauty Salon, said only she and another worker interact with customers, but she does not know if three other staff in operations, finance and marketing also need to be tested.

She plans to buy do-it-yourself test kits in case she is not offered testing at a QTC.

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Ms Christina Lek, 57, said she and her three other co-owners of Aspect Hair Salon in Yishun Central have bought a box of 10 Covid-19 test kits.

"(The QTC) is very convenient and I don't mind going, but I don't want to take the risk if it is crowded," said Ms Lek, 57, who is waiting to hear from the authorities.

However, not all welcome the new testing requirements.

Ms Toh Yi, 54, a hairdresser who has been vaccinated, said: "I feel it is troublesome. We don't have face-to-face contact with our customers and they all wear masks the entire time."

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