Roads and trains get more crowded as people return to school and work after circuit breaker

A packed MRT train leaving Bishan towards city on June 2, 2020. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

SINGAPORE - With students returning to school and more people going back to work, roads, trains and buses were more crowded on Tuesday (June 2) morning.

The first day after the end of the circuit breaker, however, came nowhere close to seeing the rush-hour crowd of the days before the Covid-19 outbreak.

At about 7am, a small traffic jam had formed in Bishan Road as parents drove their children to school.

Ms Juliet Foo, 36, who had been working at a medical clinic in Raffles Place throughout the circuit breaker period, said that trains on the North East Line were about 30 per cent more crowded this morning.

Her friend, who did not want to be named and took the Downtown Line to work, said that people still respected social distancing measures where they could, even though the green and orange stickers plastered over alternate seats in the trains had been removed.

As part of a phased reopening, train and bus intervals returned to pre-circuit breaker levels, with trains pulling into Raffles Place MRT station every two minutes during peak hour.

June 2 is the first day workers were allowed to return to their workplace, provided that they could not continue working from home, which must remain the default mode of work.

Workers are allowed back to their workplaces if necessary, to use equipment inaccessible from home or to fulfil legal requirements.

While in the office, they must adhere to safe management measures such as temperature screenings, practising good personal hygiene and wearing masks at all times, except during activities that require them to be removed.

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Ms Liao Yilin, 28, who works in a sales role, said her department was asked to return to the office in Raffles Place to conduct face-to-face meetings with clients. Workers in other departments can continue to work from home.

Cubicles at her workplace have barriers and are spaced 1m apart. There are also safe distancing markings throughout. Seats at the pantry have been reduced and staff eat at staggered times.

Still, she admitted that she feels worried.

"I have no choice. If I don't return to the office, I'm worried I'll get sacked. It is very hard to find a job now, so I feel a bit sandwiched," she said, adding that she would have preferred to be at home to help her daughter, who is a Primary 1 pupil, with home-based learning.

Schools reopened today but daily classes on school premises will be held only for the graduating cohorts of Primary 6 and Secondary 4 and 5. All other students will alternate weekly between home-based learning and lessons at school.

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