Long queues as people rush to snap up TraceTogether tokens

Sales manager Ho Kai Peng collecting seven TraceTogether tokens for her family at Teck Ghee Community Club in Ang Mo Kio yesterday. Those collecting the tokens are also given a magnetic information guide explaining how to use the device, which comes
Sales manager Ho Kai Peng collecting seven TraceTogether tokens for her family at Teck Ghee Community Club in Ang Mo Kio yesterday. Those collecting the tokens are also given a magnetic information guide explaining how to use the device, which comes in colours such as green, orange and white. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

The draining of smartphone batteries, convenience in the workplace and security concerns were among the reasons given by those who rushed to collect their TraceTogether tokens yesterday.

There were long queues at some of the 38 community centres and clubs here to collect the device on the first weekend since the Government announced that checking in with the TraceTogether app or token would be mandatory by end-December at all public venues, including restaurants, workplaces, schools and shopping malls.

This prompted the Government Technology Agency to post a notice on the Token Go Where website that said: "We are currently experiencing high demand for the collection of tokens."

It advised people against rushing to collect the devices, and to check for availability before heading down to the collection centres, reminding them that there is no need to get the token if they already have the app.

The tokens will be made available at all 108 community centres islandwide by the end of next month.

At Yio Chu Kang Community Club, IT engineer Rudi Rashid, 44, waited for around 40 minutes to collect eight tokens for his household and his brother's family.

Accompanied by his 10-year-old daughter Sri Raihanah, Mr Rudi had taken public transport from his home in Sembawang to the venue, as collection is not yet available at the community centre near his place.

He said that even though there is a TraceTogether smartphone app, he prefers not to use it as it drains his phone battery.

"I work as an IT engineer in a pharmaceutical setting. As I enter many labs and facilities, I can't bring my phone around all the time," he added. "I also don't want to leave my phone's Bluetooth on all the time, for security reasons."

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When The Sunday Times visited Yio Chu Kang Community Club at around 2pm, a single queue stretched past a sign indicating a 45-minute waiting time. It led to four separate counters where volunteers were giving out the tokens.

Those collecting the tokens are also given a magnetic information guide explaining how to use the device, which comes in colours such as green, orange and white.

Mr Richard Chew, 55, a project manager at a construction site near Yio Chu Kang Community Club, picked up eight tokens for himself, his friends and colleagues yesterday afternoon, after queueing for half an hour. He said: "It is easier for me to use this (token) to enter the construction sites, because in my line of work I need to use my phone for other purposes."

Over at Teck Ghee Community Club in Ang Mo Kio, there were three queues in the main hall, where a projector screen played a video explaining how the TraceTogether token works. For example, there is no Global Positioning System tracking for each token, and the data collected stays on the device and is automatically deleted after 25 days.

Outside, there was a priority queue for pregnant women, wheelchair users and the handicapped.

In Teck Ghee Community Centre in Ang Mo Kio, there were three queues in the main hall, where a projector screen played a video explaining how the TraceTogether token works. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI
Mr Rudi Rashid, accompanied by his daughter Sri Raihanah, collecting TraceTogether tokens at Yio Chu Kang Community Club on Oct 24, 2020. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI
People queueing to collect TraceTogether tokens at Yio Chu Kang Community Club on Oct 24, 2020. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Sales manager Ho Kai Peng, 37, who was there to collect seven tokens for her family, said: "Some of my friends have the app, but I worry that it's battery draining. I don't carry a power bank around with me."

She added that she has a better idea of how the device works after watching the video while in the queue. She also plans to read the magnetic information guide, which she intends to stick on her refrigerator at home.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 25, 2020, with the headline Long queues as people rush to snap up TraceTogether tokens. Subscribe