Workers disrupted by Covid-19 become safe distancing ambassadors, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Workers disrupted by Covid-19 become safe distancing ambassadors

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Workers who had jobs disrupted by outbreak sign up to be safe distancing ambassadors

For the past three weeks, Mr Richard Lim and his wife have been sleeping in separate rooms.

He heads straight for the shower when he returns from work and interacts with members of his household mainly through text message.

Mr Lim, 52, who works as a tour manager, signed up to be a safe distancing ambassador with Enterprise Singapore (ESG) earlier this month, after the travel industry came to a halt.

"After I got this job, I immediately texted everyone in my family: stay safe, stay home and avoid me, because I (will be) exposed," Mr Lim told The Straits Times in an interview yesterday.

He patrols Jurong Point mall five to six days a week.

Some workers who have had their jobs disrupted by the Covid-19 outbreak are making ends meet through temporary jobs that have been created by the pandemic, such as safe distancing ambassadors and temperature screeners.

Despite the risks that come with being front-line workers, they say they want to do their part in battling Covid-19.

ESG has 450 safe distancing ambassadors at the moment, most of whom were recruited from hard-hit industries, such as tourism and retail.

Together with enforcement officers, they conduct daily surveillance checks at 92 shopping malls across Singapore and ensure that businesses and individuals comply with safe distancing measures.

Ms Juliet Isabella, a freelance school trainer, found herself out of work when schools here moved to home-based learning on April 8.

Ms Isabella said: "When that happened, the option of giving tuition also came to mind. I can still continue to teach students, but I think being a safe distancing ambassador gives me a different kind of rewarding experience."

The Singapore Tourism Board has also worked with the Society of Tourist Guides (Singapore) to deploy 56 tourist guides to conduct safe distancing checks in Chinatown, Little India and Orchard Road during the circuit breaker period.

The Straits Times understands that safe distancing ambassadors, appointed by various government agencies, are paid up to $2,500 a month.

Mr Howard Lim, 59, a tourist guide of 32 years, is among those who took up the job.

"The pay is one part, but at least we have something to do to occupy ourselves," he said.

Working on the front line, having to wear masks for long hours and deal with unruly behaviour is a challenge, but the skills these workers bring from their previous jobs has come in handy.

Mr Richard Lim said: "I deal with people from all walks of life, it's a passion... so when I go about doing this job, it's just like second nature to me."