SINGAPORE: Singapore is not facing immediate risks of running out of food or essential supplies, said Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing on Monday (Mar 16), shortly after Malaysia announced travel restrictions into and out of the country.

“The Government has been actively working with essential firms such as NTUC Fairprice, Sheng Siong and Dairy Farm International to increase our stock of food and essential supplies over the last two months,” said Mr Chan in a Facebook post. 

“This means that we are not facing any immediate risks of running out of food or other supplies brought in by our retailers.”

He also urged people to “purchase in a responsible manner and to purchase only what you need”.

Singapore gets much of its food supply from across the Causeway, and many Malaysians cross over daily to work in Singapore. Singaporeans also cross over frequently to shop, holiday and for business.

READ: Malaysia reports 125 new COVID-19 cases; mosques in two states to suspend gatherings

In addition to building up the inventory of food and essential supplies, Singapore also has a robust multi-pronged strategy that ensures the country does not run out of essentials, Mr Chan said. 

People lining up at Hillion mall’s NTUC FairPrice on Mar 16, 2020. (Photo: Johannes Tjendro) 

“For example, we have local production capabilities for products such as noodles, infant milk powder and canned goods among others.

“In the event that we need to increase supply for our domestic consumption, we can ramp up quickly and easily to do so. We have also continued to diversify our sources of essential goods, for example we get a good amount of vegetables from China and even go as far as Ukraine to secure our supply of eggs.

“Although we are not facing any shortages, I urge everyone to continue to purchase in a responsible manner and to purchase only what you need. Otherwise, no amount of stockpiling will be sufficient,” he said.

Shoppers lining up at Hillion mall NTUC (1)

People lining up to buying groceries at Hillion mall’s NTUC FairPrice on Mar 16, 2020. (Photo: Johannes Tjendro) 

Businesses that employ Malaysian workers who commute between Singapore and Malaysia daily may have to activate their business continuity plans, he said.

“If they need assistance, they should contact our economic agencies who stand ready to assist.”

Shoppers lining up at Tanjong Pagar Plaza NTUC

People buying groceries on the night of Mar 16, 2020 at Tanjong Pagar Plaza’s NTUC FairPrice. (Photo: Low Zoey) 

READ: Malaysia bars citizens from going overseas, foreigners from entering country for 2 weeks to curb COVID-19 spread

Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said on Monday night there would be a ban on Malaysians travelling overseas and on visitors entering the country under a restricted movement order imposed from Mar 18 to Mar 31.

Only shops selling essentials, including food stores and pharmacists, would be allowed to stay open, he said in a televised address.

The number of COVID-19 cases in Malaysia surged this week, exceeding 500 cases on Monday.

The rules are part of a “restricted movement order” established by the Malaysian government to prevent further spread of the virus, said Mr Muhyiddin.

While Singapore had on Sunday widened travel restrictions to ASEAN countries, it made an exception for Singaporeans and Malaysians using sea and land crossings with Malaysia.

Public gatherings and movements throughout Malaysia including religious events, sports meets, social and cultural activities will be prohibited, and schools will be closed, said Mr Muhyiddin. 

Mr Chan added: “We will continue to stay in touch with our Malaysian counterparts as the situation evolves. Our priority is to ensure that our people and our businesses are able to continue with their lives and their livelihoods.

“I am aware that many of these new restrictions and announcements may be quite overwhelming for many people. I ask for your continued trust and support as we work hard with all stakeholders to ensure that we get through these short-term challenges together.”

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