Hawkers at Bukit Merah View, Redhill feeling the ‘cluster’ pinch
Even though Redhill Market and Food Centre and Bukit Merah Central Food Centre are not Covid-19 hot spots, they are situated close enough for patrons to avoid all the same.
Hawker stalls there The New Paper spoke to have struggled with a massive drop in business ever since the emergence of the Bukit Merah View and Redhill Close Covid-19 clusters last month, as well as cases who patronised the FairPrice supermarket at 166 Bukit Merah Central while they were infectious last month.
Even a free-parking initiative by Radin Mas MP Melvin Yong and the Bukit Merah Shopowners and Hawkers Association's - which allows for an hour of free parking between 12pm and 2pm from lWednesday to July 14 at Redhill Market and Food Centre - has failed to draw the crowds back.
Vendors at both hawker centres said the clusters in the vicinity have resulted in poorer sales - a 60 per cent to 80 per cent drop - than during phase two (heightened alert) from May to last month.
About 75 per cent of stalls were open when TNP visited yesterday during lunchtime, but there were no crowds and no queues.
Mr Lim Lee Luong, 57, from Hong Seng Curry Rice at Redhill Food Centre said: "Business has suffered due to the area being flagged.
"I hope everyone gets vaccinated soon so we can go back to normal."
Mr Teng Soo Seng, 43, a provision and dry goods stall owner at Redhill Market, said he is not earning much and has started closing up shop around noon compared with 4pm previously.
"Business has never been this bad. Previously, you could barely walk through the crowded market, but now you can ride a bicycle through it," he said.
A 66-year-old retiree who wanted to be known only as Madam Lum was at Bukit Merah Central Food Centre to buy lunch after picking up groceries from FairPrice at 166 Bukit Merah Central.
She said: "I am not too scared of the virus as everything looks better now. The Government has also said we have to learn to adapt to the pandemic."
Mr Chris Neo, a 28-year-old videographer-editor who was queueing up at Redhill Food Centre, is also not concerned as he had previously contracted and recovered from Covid-19.
He said the free-parking initiative may help with the situation after observing there were slightly more customers at Redhill Food Centre yesterday.
Get The New Paper on your phone with the free TNP app. Download from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store now