Mixed reaction to postponement of streamlined Covid-19 measures in Singapore with some cheering move

Workers had initially moved the chairs at Our Tampines Hub closer, but have since spaced them out again after the streamlining of measures was postponed. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG
Workers removing carpets with the safe distancing markers at Our Tampines Hub on Feb 24, 2022. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

SINGAPORE - Workers at Our Tampines Hub were already removing social distancing markers when word got to them that the introduction of streamlined safe management measures had been postponed.

They had already replaced the carpets, which have markers affixed, on Thursday (Feb 24) at the facility's first-floor Festive Plaza.

A spokesman for Our Tampines Hub said workers were supposed to continue on Friday and remove markers placed on benches. The multi-purpose venue includes a mall and community spaces.

But at around 11.30am on Thursday, the Ministry of Health announced the postponement of streamlined measures to a later date due to the surge in daily cases.

Later that afternoon, Our Tampines Hub told the workers to stop work.

Amid the confusion, some cheered the news that current measures will remain for now.

Student Nikki Loei, 21, said: "Hospital staff are overwhelmed now and the daily case count is so high, I don't see how easing measures would help our front-line workers."

"If our front line can't cope with the amount of patients coming in every day then we should just postpone the easing implementation," added Ms Loei, who was window shopping at Tampines Mall on Friday.

The multi-ministry task force on Covid-19 had announced streamlined safe management measures on Feb 16, with changes to be introduced in phases - on Feb 25 and March 4.

It was meant to make the rules easier for businesses and people to understand and comply with, and encourage a greater sense of personal responsibility.

Safe distancing in mask-on settings was to be scrapped, among others.

But the brightly coloured stickers to ensure customers keep 1m from each other remained on the floors of many buildings, including at Tampines 1 mall.

Streamlined safe management measures had been announced on Feb 16, but their introduction has been postponed. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Ms Eliana Alcain, 26, assistant store manager at women's clothing store The Closet Lover, said: "We didn't receive any instructions from the management to remove the tapes and it doesn't impede our business."

Mr Sapar Karim, a supervisor for clothing brand Mango, in Isetan in Tampines Mall, said nobody told him and his staff to get rid of the stickers.

"We didn't receive any instructions from the higher-ups. So as long as there's no instructions, the stickers will remain there," said Mr Sapar, 42.

Over at Bukit Panjang Plaza, sales associate Muhammad Azahar ended up replacing the safe distancing stickers he removed from Tech House, the mobile accessories store he works at.

"Either way, the tape was getting worn out and needed replacing," said the 30-year-old, who added that his bosses had told him to do it.

Ms Teh Wan Jan, 21, does not agree with the need to postpone streamlined measures.

"Everyone is now a close contact of a close contact. If we keep trying to gain control over Covid-19, it's just going to control us," said the National University of Singapore undergraduate, who was at Tampines Mall.

Diners at a restaurant with safe distancing markers in Century Square on Feb 25, 2022. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

But retired shipyard welder Ho Soh Har said the authorities would not have taken the decision lightly.

The 77-year-old, who was resting at a shelter at Bukit Panjang Neighbourhood 5 Park, added: "I never saw the point of putting markers in large, open areas relatively few people visit, like parks, to begin with, since the bulk of infections are from crowded and confined areas."

He said since the onset of the pandemic, he has not been able to visit the Senja-Cashew Community Club near his Bukit Panjang home to watch the news on television and read the newspapers there.

The newspaper reading corner has been removed - seats and all.

"There's nothing to do except come to the park now. I can't meet my friends there (at the corner)," he said.

Streamlined measures would have also seen the return from Friday of team sports for up to 30 fully vaccinated persons.

Private sports facilities were told they could apply to Sport Singapore (SportSG) from Wednesday to be included in the list of venues for team sports.

The Straits Times understands none of the private venues have received approval.

Under current rules, up to 10 fully vaccinated people can play together at selected ActiveSG and People's Association venues.

A SportSG spokesman said those who made bookings for team sports at ActiveSG venues prior to the postponement may send an e-mail to ActiveSG for a refund.

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