First day of free mask collection runs smoothly; residents pleased with different sizes, design, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

First day of free mask collection runs smoothly; residents pleased with different sizes, design

The first day of free reusable mask collection proceeded smoothly on Monday (Jan 10) morning at various locations with vending machines that dispense them.

The free mask drive is Temasek Foundation's sixth in its efforts to better protect Singapore residents against Covid-19.

In the latest initiative, every resident can collect an anti-microbial mask with an N95 filtration middle layer by keying in their identity card numbers or scanning their identity cards at #StayMasked vending machines islandwide.

The masks, which are more breathable than standard N95 masks and are reusable for up to 30 washes, come in two sizes - L and M - at designated collection points such as community centres (CCs) and clubs and residents' committee centres.

At Hougang CC, one of the mask collection locations and also a paediatric vaccination centre, the queues moved quickly.

Most of the people The Straits Times spoke to went there not only to collect their masks, but also to get their booster jabs or have their children vaccinated.

Residents also found the process quick and convenient, spending less than five minutes in queues and with the collection process itself taking less than a minute.

Some of them who went for their jabs did not know that the mask drive started on Monday, but were pleasantly surprised to be able to collect one.

Bus driver Khor Kar Hoe, 27, said: "I actually came to Hougang CC to get a booster jab but saw the queue at the vending machine and realised I could collect a mask."

Mr Khor, who had collected a reusable mask from one of Temasek foundation's previous mask drives, said that he was looking forward to trying on the larger size as he thought it would be more comfortable.

Another resident, software engineer Ashok Enugala, 37, was pleased that the mask came in a larger size this time because he found the one-size masks issued previously too small for him.

Mr Enugala, who took his 11-year-old daughter to the CC for her paediatric vaccination, said: "The old masks were so tight, it was difficult to breathe. The new large-size mask is very comfortable."

Sales manager Jeff Quek, 48, who collected a total of seven masks for his family, said the masks were well designed with comfortable padding for the nose bridge.

"When I saw the design and the stylish grey colour, I immediately decided to collect my masks," he said. He did not collect masks from Temasek Foundation previously because he did not like their design.

Assistants were stationed at the vending machines to help residents scan their identity cards and determine the right sized masks.

Mr Ong Ah Chai, a 57-year-old unemployed paraplegic, was thankful for the help he got and found the collection process convenient.

However, there were people who opted not to collect the masks.

Mr Ken Poon, 44, a facility manager, was at the CC to collect a TraceTogether token for his son, but decided against picking up a mask. He said: "I don't think he will use it. It's important not to waste resources."

The mask distribution drive runs till Jan 23 and the public can refer to this website - - for machine locations and stock availability.