Thursday, 29 Jul 2021

All quiet at markets, food centres as more Covid-19 cases are detected among stallholders and assistants

SINGAPORE – Markets and food centres were quiet on Monday (July 19), following the detection of Covid-19 cases among stallholders and their assistants.

Some of the wet markets The Straits Times visited were closed, as part of their regular weekly schedule.

At the markets that remained open, such as Yew Tee Market and Hougang Village Wet Market, the seafood stalls were shuttered. 

Safe distancing ambassadors from the National Environmental Agency (NEA) were seen at some food centres, keeping a watchful eye on patrons eating there.

Stallholders told ST that sales had dropped, expressing concerns that their businesses would suffer from lower footfall.

Mr Noor Abdul Aziz, who sells chicken and mutton at Cheng San Market and Cooked Food Centre, said at around 10.30am that he had made only a few sales since opening at 6am.

“I usually rest on Mondays but decided to open today because it is Hari Raya tomorrow and people might want to buy meat. But I have had almost no business today,” said the 74-year-old, who is fully vaccinated.

Another stallholder, who wished to be known only as Mr Koh, said his business has dropped by about 20 per cent since the market, which is located at Block 527 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10,was reported to have a confirmed case on Sunday.

“People have been coming to me since yesterday asking if the market is going to close, but we do not know,” said the 61-year-old, who sells eggs. “We just have to follow NEA’s instructions.”

Mr Khaja Maideen, who owns a stall selling meat at West Coast Wet Market, said: “I am concerned that people might not come to the market as they are scared. They might just go to the supermarkets.”

The 47-year-old was to take a swab test later on Monday. He said he had received the notification to do so from the Ministry of Health (MOH) at 9pm on Sunday.

Mr Chew Kian Hoon, who works at a stall selling eggs in the market, also feared that sales would take a hit.

“Some customers even told me that their (children) did not want them to head to the market and they would buy the ingredients online for them instead,” said Mr Chew, 55.

Teck Whye wet market on July 19, 2021. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

Madam Wang Ming, an assistant at a roast meat stall at Teck Whye Market, said the recent cases in the wet markets and food centres had further affected business, which had already taken a hit because of the pandemic.

“The customers were concerned about the situation and didn’t want to come to the market,” the 60-year-old said in Mandarin.

Covid-19 clusters have been recently uncovered at two markets – Hong Lim Market & Food Centre and Chong Boon Market & Food Centre – at the weekend. MOH said these were likely seeded by fishmongers and stallholders who visited the Jurong Fishery Port.

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As of Monday morning, the cluster at the Jurong Fishery Port has 63 cases.

Cases have also been detected at 14 other markets: Amoy Street Food Centre, Chong Pang Market & Food Centre, Whampoa Wet Market, Telok Blangah Crescent Block 11, Taman Jurong Market, Redhill Market, Geylang Serai Malay Market, Geylang Bahru Market, 527 Ang Mo Kio Market, 726 West Coast Wet Market, Bukit Timah Wet Market, Haig Road Market and Cooked Food Centre, Jurong Central Plaza, and Shunfu Mart.

The wet market at 115 Bukit Merah View was quiet on July 19, 2021. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

MOH said these too were likely seeded by fishmongers and stallholders who visited the port to collect their stock and sell at the markets and food centres.

MOH said on Sunday that interim fencing will be progressively implemented at these markets and mandatory SafeEntry check-in requirements will be enforced.

All stallholders selling fresh fish and seafood at markets managed by NEA or operators appointed by the agency cannot resume business until they have obtained a negative polymerase chain reaction test result.

Other stalls can still operate, though their personnel are encouraged to get tested.

MOH is also working with NEA to conduct Covid-19 testing on all stallholders and assistants at markets and hawker centres managed by NEA or NEA-appointed operators.

People should avoid crowds at food centres and markets, visit during off-peak hours where possible and strictly observe safe management measures, MOH and NEA said in a joint statement on Sunday.

The story is still developing.

  • Additional reporting by Cha Hae Won, Wong Yang, Goh Ruoxue, Yeo Shu Hui, Fang Yiyang and Jasmine Choong

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