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Visitors queue at libraries on first day of jab status checks

Library patrons feel safer with roll-out of new measures

Queues formed outside libraries yesterday - the first day that vaccination-differentiated safe management measures kicked in at these locations.

When The Straits Times visited Bishan Public Library at 10am, a counter had been set up at the entrance for staff to check the inoculation status of patrons. A queue of 20 visitors had formed, with most in line having already scanned the QR codes outside the library.

Once the library opened at 10am, they were able to present their SafeEntry green passes to staff showing that they were fully vaccinated or had a cleared Covid-19 test status.

On Nov 20, the multi-ministry task force on Covid-19 announced the expansion of vaccination-differentiated safe management measures to more venues to reduce the risk of transmission of the virus.

Only fully inoculated individuals, recovered Covid-19 patients, those who are medically ineligible for vaccination or children aged 12 and below are allowed in settings where such measures apply.

In response to queries from ST, the National Library Board (NLB) said: "We do not require that (these children) be accompanied by an adult but encourage parents to ensure that their children comply with all safe management measures."

One of the first patrons in line at the Bishan library was a housewife, who wanted to be known only as Mrs Chan, and her 11-year-old daughter Binnie.

When asked about the new rules and how they affect her child, who is unable to be vaccinated as she is below 12, Mrs Chan said: "I usually do a group check-in for my daughter. I'm not sure if they will have further checks at the library but we've brought along her ez-link card (indicating her year of birth) just in case."

Retired tech consultant Chua Ming Soo, 77, said he feels reassured by the roll-out of the new measures.

Mr Chua, who was reading Chinese-language papers at the multimedia station at Toa Payoh Public Library, said: "At a library, people touch everything, from the lift buttons to the newspapers."

For this month, unvaccinated individuals will still be able to visit libraries but need to show a negative pre-event test result. But from Jan 1, this will cease.

This means those who are unvaccinated can borrow books only by making a reservation and collecting their items at standalone and regional libraries.

The NLB said last week the bookdrops and reservation lockers are located outside the libraries and are accessible without entry.

The need for a safe outlet for the public to stay active and renew social bonds has also seen the People's Association (PA) pilot the resumption of selected classes and activities for fully vaccinated seniors aged 60 and above, since Nov 1.

coronavirus