Singapore

SG Clean? Hawker centres and foodcourts are clean, no thanks to diners

Many Singaporeans unaware of or not following SG Clean recommendations, such as binning used tissue

Five months after diners were urged to keep community eating areas clean as part of Singapore's fight against Covid-19, the results appear patchy.

While some diners at hawker centres and food courts make the effort to clean up before and after their meals, most are content to leave this to cleaners.

In February, the SG Clean campaign was launched to raise hygiene standards across the country, particularly at community dining places. The next month, the campaign was co-opted in Singapore's fight against the growing pandemic.

Then Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli urged diners not to leave pieces of used tissue inside their bowls, describing them as "little biohazards that you leave on the table".

Among other things, the SG Clean task force said diners should consume their food off trays instead of placing bowls and plates directly on tables.

They should also return their dirty dishes and utensils to tray stations, and not leave their used tissue paper behind.

At checks at various hawker centres and coffee shops yesterday, The Straits Times observed that while some diners made the effort to keep their eating area clean most left this to cleaners.

The places visited included the Serangoon Garden market and hawker centre, Teck Ghee wet market and hawker centre, and the Fei Siong-run Ci Yuan social enterprise hawker centre at Hougang.

On average, eight out of 10 diners did not follow the SG Clean recommendations.

Few kept their bowls and plates on the tray while eating.

Most left their crockery and utensils on the table when they finished instead of returning them. Cleaners were hard at work making sure the mess was cleared up.

Only two out of 30 people interviewed said they were aware of the SG Clean guidelines.

One was insurance agent David Goh, 28, who was having breakfast at the Serangoon Garden market and hawker centre. Both Mr Goh and his wife Melissa, 29, a homemaker, were eating off their trays.

"It's just more convenient to eat off the tray for us. If it makes a cleaner's job easier while keeping the table clean for the next diner, that's a win-win situation," Mr Goh said.

Other diners had their own reasons for not eating off trays, but said they were trying their best to keep the tables clean.

Ms Jenny Lim, 56, owner of a clothing storeat Teck Ghee market, said that while she cleans the table and utensils with wet wipes before and after eating, she will not eat off the tray because of the "bad smell".

Most diners were unaware of the recommendation to not leave tissue paper around, and thought it wasn't their responsibility to return the trays as there were cleaners around.

Among diners who practised good hygiene habits was housewife Theresa Chan, who is in her 50s.

"Even though it might be unpleasant, I think using a tray and returning it helps to lessen the cleaners' workload," said Ms Chan, who was having lunch at Teck Ghee market.

Food & Drink