Novena malls see lower footfall after cluster at nearby TTSH

Lunchtime crowds still thronged two popular malls in Novena yesterday despite the Covid-19 cluster linked to the nearby Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH), but businesses said footfall has been impacted.

Diners and shoppers at Velocity and Square 2 that The Straits Times spoke to said they were not overly concerned about the TTSH cluster, as they had faith the authorities were handling the situation.

Eight new cases yesterday brought the cluster to 35 - the largest active cluster now.

Visiting Velocity and Square 2 at 1pm yesterday, ST found the foodcourts had more than 60 people in each mall.

Real estate agent Clement Khoo, 45, who was dining at the foodcourt in Velocity with his 10-year-old son, said he was initially concerned that he would have to reschedule his son's appointment at Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital.

"But since TTSH has been locked down and Mount Elizabeth said they can still operate normally, I didn't see a need to reschedule," he said.

Staff at 12 retail stores and food outlets in both malls said weekday footfall has fallen by 10 per cent to 50 per cent since news of the TTSH cluster broke and people returned to working from home.

Public agencies such as the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore are among the organisations with offices in the Novena area that have asked their staff to work from home where possible.

At Itacho Sushi at Square 2, assistant manager Ailan Chen said the restaurant normally has 300 to 400 customers on weekdays, but that number has dropped by 50 per cent.

However, retailers and food outlets said footfall yesterday could have been affected as some workers were given a day off in lieu of Labour Day, which fell on Saturday.

Meanwhile, other hospitals in the area have stepped up safety measures.

When ST visited Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital, where a stream of people was seen entering the building, a sign at the entrance requested that visitors declare if they had been warded at or visited inpatient wards at TTSH from April 18.

It was quiet at Ren Ci Community Hospital, which has barred visitors to its wards.

This article first appeared in The Straits Times.