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Raffles Place, Orchard deserted as 'circuit breaker' measures kick in

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Raffles Place and Orchard deserted as 'circuit breaker' measures take effect

When the city-bound train pulled into Raffles Place station, there were plenty of empty seats and no mad dashes.

Surreal it may have been, but this will become the new normal now that Singapore has entered "circuit breaker" mode.

With most workplaces shut from yesterday, traffic was light once parents dropped their children off at school on the last day before full home-based learning kicks in.

Heartland wet markets, hawker centres and other eateries remained open as Singaporeans popped out of their homes - some still in pyjamas - to stock up.

The shutdown of non-essential services and ban on eating out for a month are aimed at curbing the spread of Covid-19 amid a recent spike in locally transmitted cases.

A bank employee who works in Raffles Place and gave his name as Kevin K. said that while the usual peak-hour crowd had begun to thin weeks ago, yesterday's was the smallest he had ever seen on a work day.

"You can close your eyes and walk around and it would probably take quite a while before you hit anyone," said Kevin, 41.

While not as packed as it was over the weekend, Ghim Moh Market was crowded yesterday morning with shoppers.

Mr Billy Yeo, who helps to run a meat stall at the market, said business was slightly brisker than usual for a Tuesday.

"They're also buying more because there are more mouths to feed now that everyone is at home," said Mr Yeo, 28.

TAKEAWAYS

Most people seen at the Ghim Moh Food Centre were observing safe distancing rules as they queued for takeaway food. While some stalls had long lines, others have been hit hard by the drop in office crowds.

A fish soup stall had no customers all morning, said its owner who gave his name only as Mr Gao. "Everyone is cooking at home now. If it continues like this for one month, we're done for," he said in Mandarin.

Those who were out to buy food or groceries said leaving their homeswas like stepping into a new world.

Singapore Management University student Cherylene Chan, who was at Bedok Interchange Hawker Centre, said: "It's really quiet, there's barely anyone and barely any queues."

Orchard Road was a ghost town when The Straits Times went there yesterday afternoon. Walkways were deserted, with even the ubiquitous ice cream carts nowhere to be found. Long lines of taxis waited in vain outside malls for passengers to pick up.

Popular Jurong malls - Jem, Westgate and JCube - also had few visitors yesterday.

At lunch hour, Nex mall in Serangoon had only pockets of people buying groceries or waiting outside eateries for takeaways.

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