SINGAPORE: Starting from Sunday (Apr 12), people not wearing face masks will not be allowed to enter the 40 markets managed by the National Environment Agency (NEA) or NEA-appointed operators.

The move is to safeguard the health and well-being of all stallholders and patrons at the 40 markets, which are relatively popular and tend to attract crowds over the weekends, the agency said in a press release on Friday.

The COVID-19 outbreak in Singapore, which has killed seven people and infected more than 2,100, has prompted the Government to put in place safe distancing measures, such as bans on dining-in at food establishments and queue markings to maintain 1m separation between people at markets.

READ: PM Lee appeals to older Singaporeans to stay at home during COVID-19 ‘circuit breaker’ period

Reusable masks are being distributed to all residents and the Government has advised people to wear them if they have to leave their homes.

“With reusable masks being made available to Singapore residents, patrons should don a mask when visiting markets, given the generally crowded and closed-in environment in markets,” said NEA.

These 40 markets have crowd management measures in place, such as controlled entry and exit points. However, several markets – such as the ones at Geylang Serai, 505 Jurong West Street 52 and 104/105 Yishun Ring Road – still attracted big crowds over the weekends, and long queues were seen outside the markets.

Members of the public queue outside Geylang Serai Market on Apr 9, 2020. (Photo: Try Sutrisno Foo)

Geylang Serai Market (2)

A temporary shelter has been put up to shield people joining the long queues at Geylang Serai Market, Apr 9, 2020. (Photo: Try Sutrisno Foo)

Limiting the crowd capacity of markets is necessary to ensure that there is enough space for people to maintain the 1m separation, especially when patrons are at the stalls making their purchase, said NEA. 

People should also return another day if the queue outside the market is too long, it added.

“If the ground situation at these few hotspots does not improve, NEA would consider even stronger measures to reduce crowding both inside and outside these markets.”

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NEA also said patrons should limit their market visits to once a week and on weekdays or non-peak hours on weekends. The elderly are encouraged not to do their own shopping and instead ask for help from their family members or their neighbours.

People should also avoid lingering in the market when buying groceries and to consider visiting a different market other than the 40 popular ones.

Geylang Serai Market (2)

A stall at Geylang Serai Market, Apr 9, 2020. (Photo: Try Sutrisno Foo)

68 ENFORCEMENT ACTIONS ON FRIDAY

Since Thursday, NEA officers have started taking down the particulars of anyone found to be breaching safe distancing measures.

A total of 68 enforcement actions were taken against members of the public at markets and cooked food sections of hawker centres on Friday, NEA said.

READ: ICA Building closes for disinfection after COVID-19 cluster reported there

In one case, a market patron claimed to be ignorant of the safe distancing requirements and refused to comply after being told by enforcement officers. In another case, a patron who sat in the cooked food section of a hawker centre while waiting for the spouse became verbally abusive towards an enforcement officer.

In both cases, the police had to be called in, NEA said.

Geylang Serai Market (1)

View of stalls at Geylang Serai Market, Apr 9, 2020. (Photo: Try Sutrisno Foo)

“While most patrons have been observed to be orderly when queueing for takeaways, there are some patrons who were found to disregard the safe distancing measures and even consumed food or drinks at the dining areas,” the agency said.

“All patrons and visitors are reminded to follow the guidance and instructions of NEA officers. Non-compliant patrons and visitors may face enforcement action, including a composition fine of S$300 or prosecution in court.”

“The cooperation of all patrons, as well as stallholders, is required so that further stricter measures will not be necessary beyond the current circuit breaker to halt the transmission of COVID-19 in Singapore,” said NEA.

safe-distancing rules during circuit breaker period

Below is the list of the 40 markets with crowd management measures:

1.    Tiong Bahru Market

2.    Bukit Timah Market

3.    Tanglin Halt Market

4.    Geylang Serai Market

5.    Taman Jurong Market & Food Centre

6.    North Bridge Road Market & Food Centre

7.    Beo Crescent Market

8.    Kallang Estate Market

9.    409 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10

10.  505 Jurong West Street 52

11.  13/14 Haig Road

12.  4A Eunos Crescent

13.  104/105 Yishun Ring Road

14.  137 Tampines Street 11

15.  630 Bedok Reservoir Road

16.  209 Hougang Street 21

17.  453A Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10

18.  527 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10

19.  628 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 4

20.  341 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1

21.  20 Ghim Moh Road

22.  29 Bendemeer Road

23.  49 Sims Place

24.  254 Jurong East Street 24

25.  448 Clementi Avenue 3

26.  50A Marine Terrace

27.  160/162 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 4

28.  115 Bukit Merah View

29.  726 Clementi Street 2

30.  79 Redhill Lane

31.  105 Hougang Avenue 1

32.  16 Bedok South Road

33.  216 Bedok North Street 1

34.  58 New Upp Changi Road

35.  335 Smith Street

36.  347 Jurong East Avenue 1

37.  20/21 Marsiling Lane

38.  665 Buffalo Road

39.  221 A/B Boon Lay Place

40.  127 Toa Payoh Lorong 1

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