SG News (Straits Times)

Coronavirus: Businesses here take steps to keep patrons at least 1m apart

By March 21, 2020 No Comments
Customers at Collin's at Nex queuing a safe distance apart from one another following red markers on the floor on March 20, 2020.

Customers at Collin's at Nex queuing a safe distance apart from one another following red markers on the floor on March 20, 2020.

Restaurant owners removed tables, while retailers spaced out queueing customers as they geared up yesterday for new safe-distancing requirements.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) announced measures yesterday to reduce the risk of local transmission of the coronavirus, including requiring public venues such as eateries, shops and cinemas to keep patrons at least 1m apart.

Though the measures were to be rolled out progressively from today, preparations were already under way at several businesses.

Casual restaurant chain Collin’s moved out around 10 per cent of its tables in its Nex mall outlet, to ensure adequate spacing between groups of diners.

Chinese eatery Soup Restaurant managing director Wong Wei Teck said it has started implementing the 1m safety distance and collecting diners’ details for contact tracing at two of its 15 outlets. It intends to implement the measures at all outlets by the end of next week.

“We are a family restaurant, and we frequently get big groups. It can be a little troublesome for customers, but it is safety first,” he said.

Bubble tea chain Koi’s operations project manager Lim Zhi Liang said that at outlets with self-order touchscreen kiosks, staff will space them at least 1m apart and disinfect the touchscreens every 15 to 30 minutes. Floor markers will be rolled out across all 57 outlets over the next few days.

Over at Zouk in Clarke Quay, the nightspot is limiting the capacity in each of its four venues – Zouk main room, Capital, Phuture and Redtail – to 250 people each, including staff. Guest information will also be collected for contact tracing.

Mr Seah Kian Peng, group chief executive of FairPrice Group, said 1m floor markers at checkout counters and storewide announcements every 30 minutes to remind customers to space themselves would be progressively implemented at all 148 FairPrice supermarket outlets.

He said, however, that there are no plans at the moment to limit the number of shoppers in stores.

The National Environment Agency (NEA) and town councils are also in the process of marking out seats at hawker centres to guide patrons on how to practise safe distancing.

To help businesses comply with the new requirements, Enterprise Singapore, the NEA, the Singapore Food Agency and the Singapore Tourism Board issued two joint advisories yesterday with steps that companies can take.

Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Chee Hong Tat, who visited some businesses in Nex yesterday that were putting safe-distancing precautions in place, said the effectiveness of the measures required everyone’s cooperation.

“The (floor) markers may be there, but the public must also get used to making some of these adjustments,” said Mr Chee.

Most of the shoppers The Straits Times spoke to welcomed the moves.

Housewife Jennifer Foo, 47, who was shopping at Nex’s FairPrice with her daughter, said: “It is a good thing that even supermarkets and shops are being more strict during this time. It will make people more vigilant and more conscious about their personal hygiene.”