Singapore

Eight people fined for flouting safety measures in Little India

Checks stepped up in the area leading up to Deepavali; Tourism Board advises shoppers to stagger visits and avoid peak periods

Eight people were each issued with composition fines of $300 over the last two weekends for failing to comply with safe management measures while in Little India.

The authorities have been stepping up checks in the area during the peak periods leading up to Deepavali, which falls on Saturday.

The Singapore Tourism Board (STB), for one, has deployed more enforcement officers and safe distancing ambassadors to aid with crowd management.

STB's director for arts and cultural precincts, Ms Serene Tan, said shoppers have been advised to stagger visits and avoid peak periods, such as weekends.

The Straits Times visited Little India over the past two weekends and found that while crowd sizes were smaller compared with that during the festive period in previous years, business appeared brisk at some shops.

Some stalls had also extended their footprint into the street to accommodate shoppers.

Meanwhile, safe distancing ambassadors were seen patrolling the area to ensure shoppers adhered to the required measures at all times.

While the streets of Little India were set aglow last month during the Deepavali light-up ceremony, they will be devoid of bazaars and festival villages.

Mr Rajkumar Chandra, president of the Little India Shopkeepers and Heritage Association, said a small number of stalls belonging to existing shops have been allowed to set up in Campbell Lane.

They have been reminded to sell their goods only within their premises and at permitted areas.

The association also set up littleindia.com.sg, which went live on Oct 10, for shops to sell festive goodies online.

Mr Iqbal Raja, who works at Bawa's Delicacy, a store selling traditional cookies, sweets and murukku (a savoury Indian snack), said that while overall sales have been slow, the store has been garnering more interest online since the outbreak of Covid-19.

"Some still order online from us, but others prefer to taste the snacks before purchasing," said the 49-year-old.

The business, which has its main branch in Kerbau Road, has a temporary stall set up in Campbell Lane.

Mr Gopalkrishnan Ranganathan said he makes it a point to take his two boys to Little India at least once a year around Deepavali to experience the festive atmosphere.

The 50-year-old engineer said: "This year's ambience definitely isn't there, especially with much fewer stalls around.

"But when it comes to buying our Deepavali outfits, trying out the different foods, and getting ornaments and decorations, we'll still need to walk around and experience this first-hand."

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