Stallholders cautiously optimistic as dine-in limit is raised to five
Many are not yet buying extra supplies or hiring more help for now
Stallholders at hawker centres, foodcourts and coffee shops here are still only cautiously optimistic about the prospects for business once dine-in restrictions are eased for groups of up to five people from today.
More than 20 stallholders The Straits Times spoke to yesterday said they were holding off on buying extra supplies or hiring extra help even though they expect more customers for lunch and dinner this week.
Ms Doreen Wu, 48, who operates the Tekka Homemade Yong Tau Foo stall at Tekka Food Centre with her husband, said that she would wait and see if the crowds returned in the coming weekend before buying more ingredients.
"Since dining in was opened for groups of two, we have seen more crowds on Sunday because migrant workers frequent the centre on their day off. Even though groups of five will be allowed now, we do not expect to see a sudden influx of diners since it is a weekday and most people are still working from home," she said.
Like Ms Wu, other hawkers at Tekka Food Centre and Bukit Timah Food Centre (BTFC) said business had gone down by 20 per cent to 40 per cent since restrictions were tightened in May.
They hope to recover lost earnings in the coming weeks as more patrons trickle back to their stalls.
Mr Jet Lim, 49, who runs the Heng Heng Beef Hor Fun stall at BTFC, said business had been badly hit since the emergence of the Covid-19 cluster at the Bukit Merah View Market and Hawker Centre last month.
"Every time there is a change in rules, business suffers. People stop coming because they hesitate whenever the rules change. When dine-in opened up for two people, we expected better business, but actually it got even worse. People are more scared now."
Mrs Fitriyani, 43, who runs Selera Hidayah, a Malay cuisine stall at BTFC, and only wanted to be known by one name, expected more customers this week.
She said her dishes were better for dine-in rather than takeaway and more customers had patronised her stall since the rules were relaxed to allow dine-in for two people.
Stallholders at Newton Food Centre and Berseh Food Centre also did not expect business to improve in the coming weeks.
Hawkers at Newton Food Centre claimed to be the worst hit, with some saying they had suffered losses amounting to 50 per cent to 80 per cent of their earnings when compared with before the circuit breaker.
Mr Ahmad Musthafa, 60, who runs Indian food stall Tawfeek's Cuisine, at Newton Food Centre, said: "We have managed to stay afloat thanks to the rental waivers from the Government.
"Even if more people are permitted to dine together, we will still struggle to make ends meet as long as there are no tourists and office workers frequenting the centre."