Singapore

Safety measures at hawker centres, coffee shops to be fine-tuned

The way in which vaccination-differentiated dine-in rules are implemented at hawker centres and coffee shops will be fine-tuned, taking into account feedback from the ground, said Finance Minister Lawrence Wong yesterday.

He was speaking at a virtual press conference held by the multi-ministry task force tackling Covid-19, which he co-chairs. New rules forbidding unvaccinated people from dining in at hawker centres and coffee shops had kicked in a week ago on Oct 13.

Diners and coffee shop stallholders that The Straits Times spoke to that day said they were confused and frustrated by the new measures, with some saying the measures meant extra work for them.

Asked about this by ST yesterday, Mr Wong said: "We are trying to do this in a pragmatic way. We know it is not straightforward, particularly in many of our coffee shops which have open, porous designs. It's not easy to do."

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He added that the National Environment Agency (NEA) and Singapore Food Agency have been engaging operators of hawker centres and coffee shops, and will continue to fine-tune the system.

On Tuesday, NEA said stallholders at hawker centres do not need to check their patrons' vaccination status.

Instead, safe distancing enforcement officers will conduct selective checks on patrons who are dining there to ensure they are vaccinated.

"We know this is not easy. That's why we didn't start out wanting to do (vaccination-differentiated measures) in hawker centres and coffee shops," said Mr Wong yesterday.

But he explained that after seeing the number of people getting infected in these settings, many of whom were unvaccinated people, the authorities felt there was a need to take measures to safeguard and protect them.

"We will certainly take in feedback and see how we can fine-tune the implementation process," he added. - THE STRAITS TIMES

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