Thursday, 17 Jun 2021

Thin dinner-time crowds in Jem and Westgate on first day of reopening after Covid-19 closure

SINGAPORE – Dinner-time crowds were thin at Jem and Westgate on Sunday (June 6), the first day the two shopping malls in Jurong East reopened for business after a mandatory two-week closure.

The two malls were linked to a Covid-19 cluster that numbered 63 cases as at Saturday.

When The Straits Times visited the malls at 7pm on Sunday for two hours, some shoppers said it was not as crowded as it was on weekends before the closures.

The malls had been closed since May 23 for deep cleaning of the premises, after investigations by the Ministry of Health found likely ongoing transmission among visitors to the two malls.

Both malls told ST that they have completed deep cleaning and disinfection works prior to the reopening.

The air in Westgate’s air-conditioned areas will be purged daily before the mall opens for business each day, said CapitaLand, which operates Westgate.

Air dampers in the building are also fully opened to improve air intake in the mall’s kitchens and toilets.

CapitaLand said it has also ramped up cleaning protocols in the mall.

After the mall closes for the day, autonomous ultraviolet (UV) disinfection robots will be deployed to disinfect the premises.

This comes on top of other precautions including placing disinfection floor mats at key entrances and coating high contact areas with an anti-microbial disinfectant.

Jem will continue to maintain its enhanced cleaning regime and safe distancing protocols, said its operator Lendlease Singapore.

Lendlease head of asset operations Jenny Khoo said: “Jem reopened smoothly today after completing all the required disinfection and deep cleaning works in collaboration with our tenants. We are excited to welcome shoppers back, with the roll-out of attractive perks for shoppers to enjoy.”

On Sunday evening, a number of retail stores and eateries were closed in both Westgate and Jem.

Shoppers were sparse at popular haunts like Ikea and Don Don Donki, both located in Jem.

Shoppers were sparse at popular haunts like Don Don Donki in Jem. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

Mr Ang Won Leong, 28, who works in security at Changi Airport, said he took the opportunity to visit Ikea, as he has not been there since the furniture store opened on April 29.

Mr Ang, who was with his girlfriend, said: “We just wanted to leave our house and walk around for a bit to do some shopping and buy food. I wouldn’t say we’re worried – it’s just another day.”

A shopper who wanted to be known as Ms Mondal, 35, said her five-year-old daughter had been asking to leave the house, so she decided to visit Jem for her daughter’s haircut and grocery shopping.

“There’re very few people around. I was expecting more people, especially since it’s dinner time,” said Ms Mondal, who works in the oil and gas industry, adding that she typically visits both malls around twice a week prior to the closures.

Both malls told The Straits Times that they have completed deep cleaning and disinfection works prior to the reopening. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

A shopper, who gave his name only as Ze, said he came to Jem to do grocery shopping at the FairPrice supermarket with his wife.

“There’re a lot fewer people today, perhaps because some of the shops are not open and the no dining-in rule takes away a lot of crowd,” said the 37-year-old who works in a bank.

“We always use the free hand sanitiser they put up everywhere in the mall and we do what we can to safeguard ourselves, so we think it’s okay to come out.”

Mr Kaunt, who is from Myanmar and goes by one name, said he is less worried, as he had received his second Covid-19 vaccination jab a few weeks ago. He was waiting for his wife outside Jem’s FairPrice supermarket with his daughter, aged four.

Said the 42-year-old engineer: “I feel the community cases situation is more under control now, compared to when we had the circuit breaker last year, so that’s why more people are relieved and feel safer to come out.”

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