Malls may face entry limits if they slip up on crowd management
These include odd-even weekend entry in force at Peninsula Plaza and Lucky Plaza
As clampdowns on businesses and individuals breaching safe-distancing measures continue, shopping malls are no exception to scrutiny.
Entry restrictions may be imposed on malls that face crowd management issues even as more visitors are allowed in under phase three of Singapore's reopening, the authorities said.
The restrictions may be similar to the odd-even weekend entry in force at Peninsula Plaza and Lucky Plaza since Aug 29.
Under these guidelines, patrons can visit the malls only on odd or even dates according to whether the last number of their NRIC/FIN number is odd or even.
The restrictions remain in place even though phase three has eased the capacity limit for malls from 10 sq m to 8 sq m a person since Dec 28.
When announcing the measures in August last year, the Singapore Tourism Board and Enterprise Singapore said the two shopping centres attract larger crowds and longer queues to enter them over a sustained period, especially on weekends, compared with other malls.
Peninsula Plaza and Lucky Plaza are especially popular with Myanmar and Filipino domestic workers respectively, and many visit to meet friends and buy products from home on Sundays - a common day off for these workers.
Some businesses reliant on this niche clientele said they struggle to make ends meet. Some owners said they have failed to break even for months.
Ms Jhen Tamayao, 49, who runs a business selling Filipino beauty and food products in Lucky Plaza, said her Sunday takings are now a mere $300, compared with $1,500 to $2,000 before Covid-19.
While crowds are thin in Peninsula Plaza, foreign workers still gather outside the building, creating congestion, the mall's management told The Straits Times.
Ms Toe Tinzar Oo, 41, who runs Myanmar Khit, a convenience shop in Peninsular Plaza, said she felt the restrictions were impractical as crowds have persisted in gathering outside the mall on Sundays.
Lucky Plaza shop owners who previously spoke to ST about the restrictions in September said last week that they were at their wits' end.
Appeals by the shopkeepers for the restrictions to be eased - including a paper petition signed by 167 shopkeepers - were either rejected or unanswered by the authorities, said Mr Ho Chee Yew, 45, who runs an eatery.
But with both agencies yet to commit to a date when restrictions will be eased, remaining open may not be feasible for businesses that have not broken even for months.
Said Ms Toe Tinzar Oo: "We are trying to find a way to survive. We also know the risks of Covid-19 and nobody wants to get it, but without income, how will we survive?"