Enforcement of safety measures to be stepped up for CNY
Agencies will continue to step up enforcement and engage businesses to tighten access control measures to manage crowd levels, especially during peak hours and weekends, during the Chinese New Year period, said the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment (MSE).
A spokesman for the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) also told The New Paper that "further measures may be implemented to manage crowding, if required".
This follows TNP's report on Monday (Feb 1) on how crowds were thronging Chinatown on Saturday night.
Trengganu Street, Temple Street and Pagoda Street were teeming with hundreds of shoppers who were all wearing masks. But safe distancing was simply not possible as many people literally rubbed shoulders on the packed streets and in shops.
The report attracted more than 36,000 page views and more than 1,200 shares on TNP's Facebook page, with many asking if more could be done to enforce crowd control.
In response to queries from TNP, the STB said agencies have deployed additional safe distancing ambassadors in Chinatown to patrol the precinct daily since Jan 15 to ensure compliance with safe management measures (SMMs) during the festive season.
STB director for arts and cultural precincts Serene Tan said the Chinatown Business Association (CBA) has also deployed additional manpower to support and assist in implementing SMMs, and will continue to do so in the lead-up to Chinese New Year.
She said strict enforcement action will be taken against individuals and/or businesses that do not comply with SMMs.
Ms Tan said: "STB will continue working closely with businesses in Chinatown, CBA and other government agencies to uphold SMMs throughout the precinct."
The MSE spokesman added: "We strongly urge members of the public to refrain from visiting Chinatown and other potentially crowded areas during peak hours and weekends, and plan their visits during off-peak hours instead."
On Friday (Feb 5), MSE said that there will be no Chinatown street light-up this weekend and on the eve of Chinese New Year on Feb 11, as part of measures to control heavier crowds in the area.
The authorities may also restrict access to popular areas in Chinatown such as Pagoda Street and Trengganu Street during peak hours on weekends, reported The Straits Times.
The festive lights along South Bridge Road, New Bridge Road and Eu Tong Sen Street will not be turned on from Friday to Sunday, and on Feb 11, the ministry said.
The new crowd control measures in Chinatown include closing the up-riding escalator at Chinatown MRT station exit A from time to time, depending on the size of the crowd in Pagoda Street. Passengers will be guided by station staff to use alternative exits.
Noting that measures may be put in place to control access to Pagoda Street and Trengganu Street, the MSE advised visitors to cater for additional time to walk and queue in order to enter the busier stretches in those areas.
Other measures may be implemented for crowd management and visitor safety, depending on the situation on the ground, including closing Temple Street to vehicular traffic, the ministry said.
It urged the public to adapt their Chinese New Year celebrations this festive period.
"This will help to protect vulnerable members in our community, such as the elderly. Let us be socially responsible in observing all these measures to prevent a resurgence in community transmission," the ministry said.