Sense of normality for many Singaporeans who enjoy weekend after easing of Covid-19 rules
Whenever Mr Seng Yang visited Orchard Road malls over the past two years, he had to check in and out many times, to comply with safe management measures.
“Taking out your phone or your token every time you wanted to get from one place to another, or just passing through a mall, was quite troublesome,” said the 29-year-old IT consultant, who heads to the shopping district five to six times a month.
“Sometimes, queues formed because someone at the front couldn’t do it right, and it was quite annoying.”
There was no such exasperation when he was in Orchard Road shopping with his girlfriend on Saturday (April 30).
Most venues no longer require the public to check in using the TraceTogether app or token, except in higher risk settings where vaccination checks are still required.
“The malls are a lot more accessible now and there is less hassle. I certainly will not miss the gantries,” he said.
Over at Westgate in Jurong, accounts executive Sunny Ang, 41, was similarly glad she did not have to check in at the mall.
“These are things we took for granted in the past,” said Mrs Ang, who was shopping with her husband. “Now that we do not have to check in each time, it really is a lot more convenient.”
Saturday marked the start of the first weekend since a slew of Covid-19 measures were eased on April 26 (Tuesday), and also the start of a four-day-long weekend.
Among other measures, the use of TraceTogether and SafeEntry has been stepped down, and the limit on group sizes, which was capped at 10 for mask-off activities, has been lifted.
Crowds were seen at malls in Orchard Road and Jurong East but not many large gatherings.
Polytechnic student Zen Koh, 19, who was having lunch with two friends at Ion Orchard, said after two years of the pandemic, he has become used to gathering in small groups.
“I wouldn’t make special arrangements to gather in a large group of friends unless there’s a special occasion,” he added.
Masks are still required indoors and The Sunday Times spotted the occasional pair of safe distancing ambassadors making their rounds around the malls.
Those interviewed gave the easing of measures the thumbs up.
“I think we are over the phase of being worried about getting infected. There’s no more sense of fear for the vaccinated,” said Ms Greeshma Bangera, 29, who is unemployed. She said she plans to meet friends and family more often.
It is certainly game on for sports enthusiasts.
At Red Quarters near the Stadium MRT station, groups of 15 floorballers squared off on court in friendly matches, the first time they have been able to do so in a group of more than 10 since Nov 10 last year.
Student Seah Jie Hui, 21, said: “I feel like it’s a reprieve from the many regulations. Especially for team sports, it’s not as fun to play with limited people or practise moves by yourself.”
He added: “The beauty of team sports is in the team, the players and the spectators. There must be a certain number of people present to feel the atmosphere and fully enjoy the games.”
Another player, student Phillip Wilbur, 21, said he will be gathering in larger groups more often now without worrying about breaking the rules.
This pent-up demand to make up for lost time has also benefited F&B establishments. While vaccination-differentiated safe management measures still apply to them, the onus is now on individuals to abide by the rules.
This is a big relief for restaurants like Tsuta Japanese Dining located at 313@somerset.
Supervisor Jason Chin, 25, noted that groups of customers can now be seated more quickly.
This also alleviates the manpower shortage situation as there is no longer a need to station someone to check a customer’s vaccination status, he said.
After a two-year hiatus, Singaporeans have also been hitting the nightspots again, including Yang Club in Clarke Quay.
Despite entry on a reservation-only basis, small groups of hopeful clubbers were spotted at its doors last Friday night trying to gain entry, or to just get a peek at what was going on inside, and to be reminded of what they had missed out over the long months of the pandemic.