Mustafa Centre reopens partially after month-long closure, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Mustafa Centre reopens partially after month-long closure

This article is more than 12 months old

Customers flocked back to Mustafa Centre after it was allowed to reopen about a month after it was identified as a Covid-19 cluster.

Only the supermarket section of the mall in Little India got the green light on Wednesday to re-open.

Mr Shamim Ahmad, manager for building maintenance and fire safety, told The Straits Times that it will operate from 9.30am to 11.30pm daily with plans to resume 24-hour operations next week.

The Mustafa Centre cluster has not been closed since 11 cases were found to have links to it on April 2. There were 124 cases as at May 3.

Mr Shamim said extra precautions have been taken: "We have made the space inside the supermarket wider by shifting some shelves and removing some."

Stickers marking safe distancing have been placed on thefloor, and wardens will direct customers in queues to keep one metre apart.

Boxes will mark where people should stand at cashiers.

When The Straits Times visited Mustafa Centre yesterday afternoon, a queue of about 60 people were waiting outside.

There was one entry point and two exits for the mall. Customers submitted their details by scanning a QR code on the SafeEntry digital check-in system and underwent a thermal scan before going in.

Out-of-bounds sections inside were sealed off with plastic sheets and unused escalators blocked with red cordon tape. All staff members were wearing face masks, with some also using face shields.

Only the supermarket section is open, with just essential items on sale, said Mr Shamim. It allows only 325 customers inside at any time, well under the usual average of about 500. At full capacity, the mall can have about 2,000 customers.

There are also only 60 staff on duty, down from the typical 130.

Mr Shamim noted that when Mustafa Centre had to close abruptly, a lot of items, including fresh milk and juice, eggs, fruit, and vegetables had to be thrown out.

Mr Gourav Modi, 28, who works in a semiconductor company, was shopping with his wife yesterday.

He said: "We came here because there are some things we can't find in the local shops, such as particular types of bread and snacks."

He said he was not worried as the staff spent "considerable" effort to check everyone before letting them in.

Other shops nearby are hoping that the reopening of Mustafa will bring crowds back to the area and divert some business their way.

Mr Maanish Garg, 49, director of the Ballaji Bhaawan vegetarian eatery opposite, said his business has fallen by 95 per cent since mid-March and he hopes the weekend surge of shoppers to Mustafa Centre will patronise him too - for takeaways only, of course.