SINGAPORE: Despite the Government’s call for people to stay at home as much as possible to stem the spread of COVID-19, queues of shoppers were seen at some malls on Saturday (Apr 4), ahead of next week’s closure of schools and most workplaces. 

Shoppers who spoke to CNA said that they were out to buy items like toiletries, toys, books and electronics.

Mr Zack Zuraini, who was in a fast-moving queue outside Toys R Us at VivoCity, said he was there to buy educational toys for his 10-year-old daughter, to prepare for her to be home every day.

“I’m planning ahead to entertain her. If not, the house will be topsy-turvy,” he quipped.

READ: ‘Right time’ to close schools now, says Education Minister Ong Ye Kung

It was announced on Friday that Singapore will implement full home-based learning from Apr 8 to May 4, as part of the country’s stricter measures to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. 

From Apr 7, most workplaces, with the exception of essential services and key economic sectors, will be closed. 

All supermarkets, wet markets, hawker centres and F&B establishments will remain open. But dining in will no longer be allowed, and food and beverage outlets can only offer take-away and deliveries.

READ: Essential businesses will stay open even as most workplaces are to close from next Tuesday

Another parent, Mr Kevin Ong, was in a similar queue outside Popular bookstore on Saturday to buy stationery for his school-going children.

“I am also looking for a printer, in case they need to print out work sheets,” he said.

A queue outside Popular bookstore in VivoCity on Apr 4,2020. (Photo: Jalelah Abu Baker)

Popular Novena

A queue forms outside Popular bookstore in United Square shopping mall, Novena, Apr 4, 2020. 

BUYING ITEMS FOR WORK

Others were out to buy electronics so that they can work from home. Mr James Goh bought several headsets for his wife, a business owner, so she can distribute them to her employees as they prepare to work from home.

Sim Lim Square

Shops at Sim Lim Square remained open for business on Apr 4, 2020. (Photo: Jeremy Long)

Part-time tutor Adrian Ong was at Nex mall in Serangoon to find a tablet which he can write on to conduct his lessons online.

READ: COVID-19: Singapore makes ‘decisive move’ to close most workplaces and impose full home-based learning for schools, says PM Lee

Then there were others who were out to enjoy what could be their last meal out in weeks.

Mr Adrian Tay, who was at VivoCity, said he was with his wife and two children, aged four months and two years, to have a meal and do some window shopping.

“We usually try to come out during the weekend, and it is the last weekend before most shops will be closed. Of course, when the rules kick in, we will follow them,” he said.

WET MARKETS CROWDED

Even though Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in his address to the nation on Friday that wet markets and supermarkets will remain open, there were crowds who went to stock up on items. 

Tekka Market was so busy it looked like a mad rush for groceries for Hari Raya Puasa or Chinese New Year, said butcher Aidyl.

tekka market

Tekka Market was bustling on Apr 4,2020. (Photo: Jalelah Abu Baker)

He said there were people queuing up outside his shop from just after 5am, and they were buying more than usual. Instead of the usual 1kg to 2 kg of beef, they were buying double, he said.

“Usually, I will be sold out by about 12pm, but today I was sold out by 8 plus (in the morning), and I ordered so much to sell,” he said.

Mr Malik Derwish, who shops weekly at Tekka Market, said that he bought more meat than usual.

“Usually I buy about S$50 worth of meat. But this time, I bought about S$85 worth,” he said.

He added that it was only after he ordered that he found out from the vendor that wet markets will remain open. Still, said he felt more reassured buying groceries to last for about eight days, compared to about five days usually.

“Things are changing all the time, so we want to be prepared,” he said.

Holland Village Cold Storage

Shoppers at Cold Storage in Holland Village, Apr 4, 2020. (Photo: Marcus Mark Ramos)

Bugis Street

Bugis Street was filled with people despite the recent advisory to remain at home, Apr 4, 2020. (Photo: Jeremy Long)

At Pek Kio wet market, things were less busy, but egg seller Lim Kok Leong said that people were snapping up his items. There was a steady stream of customers, and he assured them that his supply of eggs from Malaysia was not affected.

“Usually, they will buy 10 eggs, but today, they are buying trays of 30 eggs, instead of their usual 10 eggs,” he said.

Singapore COVID-19 essential services available infographic

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