First quick test centres here open for staff of small businesses

Tekka and Yishun centres will begin operations today to support small businesses unable to conduct their own supervised testing

Two former outdoor bus terminals in Tekka and Yishun have been converted into Singapore's first quick test centres (QTCs) and will begin operations today to support small businesses unable to conduct their own supervised testing.

Small businesses near the two QTCs said they are keen to send their staff for regular Covid-19 testing at the centres, though most are still unsure of the exact arrangements and some have concerns.

White sheets shielded most parts of the centres in Yishun Central and Tekka Lane from public view when The Straits Times visited yesterday, but areas with rows of plastic chairs could be seen.

From the middle of next month, it will be mandatory for those working in settings with unmasked patrons, or where there is prolonged contact between individuals, to be tested every two weeks.

They include workers at dine-in eateries, hairdressers, spas and gyms.

The tests are expected to be self-administered. QTCs will support small businesses that are unable to organise supervised self-swabs on their own.

The QTCs in Yishun and Tekka will be operational from today, with more such centres to be progressively set up.

ST understands that testing at both centres will be appointment-based. Most shops ST spoke to in the centres' vicinity said they have not been asked to send staff for tests at the QTCs yet.

Mr Faizan Hanif, 31, a director at hair salon Zulu Style in Race Course Road, hopes to send his 10 staff to the Tekka Lane centre. "We are a small shop, so it's difficult to carry out the testing ourselves," he said.

Mr Mohd Amin, 58, owner of Lam Spa, which has an administrative worker and two massage therapists, hopes regular testing will give customers greater peace of mind.

"We have regulars, but they don't come very often as they are a bit scared of the virus," said Mr Mohd, who has already been contacted about sending his staff for tests at the QTC.

"If we do it ourselves, we have to buy our own test kits. We are also not experienced so it might not be accurate, whereas the Government has the expertise to carry out the tests."

Ms Christina Lek, 57, said she and her three other co-owners of Aspect Hair Salon in Yishun Central have bought 10 Covid-19 test kits so they can do self-testing should the QTCs be crowded.

However, not all welcome the new testing requirements.

Ms Toh Yi, 54, a hairdresser who has been vaccinated, said: "I feel it is troublesome. We don't have face-to-face contact with our customers and they all wear masks the entire time."