Fewer than 10 stalls reopen at Bukit Merah market
Only about 10 out of 182 stalls were open for business yesterday morning
The 115 Bukit Merah View Market and Food Centre - which is at the centre of Singapore's largest open Covid-19 cluster - reopened yesterday after a two-week closure.
But fewer than 10 out of the 182 stalls were open for business when The Straits Times visited at 8.30am.
Some stallholders returned to clean their stalls and clear existing stocks, after ending their quarantine on Saturday.
Human traffic was also visibly thin, as some residents were told by hawkers that they were not operating yet.
One of those stallholders who returned to work was Ms Lindawati Tjong, 47, who has been running a stall selling raw chicken with her husband for nine years.
Her family of five - including three children aged 11, 17 and 19 - had been quarantined at home for the past two weeks until Saturday.
Asked why she reopened so soon, she told reporters: "We have no choice - we have a family to feed and no income for the past two weeks."
Newspaper vendor Oh Seng Hock, 70, who has sold newspapers for close to 50 years next to the market, said that human traffic has dropped drastically in the past two weeks.
"There are flies around but not people," he told ST. "There are more workers and reporters than customers."
Tanjong Pagar GRC MP Joan Pereira, who was at the market speaking with residents and stallholders, said there has been an "outpouring of love, care and support" for the hawkers and stallholders over the past two weeks.
"They've also shared with me that they are assured that we will be helping them to apply for the grant they are eligible for, because that would really help them financially."
She said the town council will continue to deep clean and disinfect common spaces and high-touch surfaces like lift buttons and railings.
"NEA... will facilitate the routine testing of our hawkers every 14 days," she said, referring to the National Environment Agency.
"Our hawkers do expect that people will be more cautious about coming back to dine in, and people might prefer to do takeaway or online delivery," she said, adding that an online platform has agreed to offer free delivery for those that order food from the hawker centre.
Preparations made for the reopening at 115 Bukit Merah View Market and Food Centre include pasting additional queue markings on the floor in front of stalls to encourage safe distancing.
An NEA spokesman told ST on Saturday the agency has worked with Tanjong Pagar Town Council to mark seats and tables at the dining areas of the hawker centre in line with prevailing regulations.
"Enforcement will be stepped up against patrons who do not comply with safe management measures, safe distancing and wearing of masks," said the spokesman.
Professor Paul Tambyah from the National University of Singapore Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine told ST last week that the main concern about the Bukit Merah clusters was the large number of unvaccinated individuals who are still susceptible to the virus.
"Hopefully, that number will go down and we will not have any more clusters like these," he said.
"While waiting for the vaccinations to be rolled out, the concern is that we still do not know the mode of transmission (and) so are not able to take specific targeted preventative action."