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People still flocking to Chinatown to prepare for CNY in spite of new safety measures

Infectious disease specialist, Dr Leong Hoe Nam is advising Singaporeans to look for other ways to 'share the cheer' and do something fun that doesn't involve crowds




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Singapore—In spite of new measures implemented to prevent the spread of Covid-19, people are still flocking to Chinatown in preparation for Chinese New Year celebrations later this week, according to a report in The New Paper. 

The Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment (MSE) issued a statement on Friday (Feb 5), that said that because crowds had seen amassing in Chinatown during the past few weekends, the Chinese New Year street light-up along South Bridge Road, New Bridge Road, and Eu Tong Sen Street would be cancelled between Feb 5 and 7, and on Feb 11, which is the eve of Chinese New Year.

Visitors who want to see the lights should go on weekdays, MSE said, or visit the Chinatown Festivals website, which would feature the lights.

Additional measures to prevent crowds include the occasional closure of the up-riding escalator at Chinatown MRT Exit A to Pagoda Street, as well as the closure of areas such as Temple Street.

However, it could be said that these measures may not be as successful as had been hoped, as TNP reports people have continued to flock to these areas, out of sheer force of habit, or even to enjoy the Chinese New Year “feels.”

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There are some individuals who told TNP that because of the new measures, fewer people would be there, implying it would be safer to go.

To be fair, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) said that there were approximately 20 per cent fewer people last weekend than the weekend before.

The director for arts and cultural precincts of STB, Serene Tan, is quoted in TNP as saying, ”We thank the public for their understanding and seek their continued cooperation to visit Chinatown during off-peak hours.”

Thirty-four people have been fined since mid-January an amount of $300 each for not masking up or meeting in groups larger than eight people. Moreover, there are 11 Chinatown businesses that were fined between S$1,000 to S$2,000 for not enforcing the one-meter required safe distancing rule as well as allowing groups larger than eight to gather.

The MSE encouraged the public to curb their CNY festivities for the sake for protecting the more vulnerable members of the community, including the elderly, as well as take personal responsibility to prevent a surge in community transmission.

More safe distancing ambassadors and security staff have also been assigned at Chinatown, and more barriers were installed, according to the Chinatown Business Association (CBA).

TNP quotes Dr Leong Hoe Nam, an infectious disease specialist, as expressing concern. 

“Singaporeans are absolutely becoming complacent… but we can also ‘share the cheer’ by doing something else. Go outside of Chinatown and tone down the celebration, have fun without the crowds.”

He called for the public to exercise common sense.

“I do hope the enlightened Singaporean will rise to the occasion instead of the ‘kiasu’ one,” he said.


Read also: Pre-CNY Chinatown crowds spark fears of Covid spread

Pre-CNY Chinatown crowds spark fears of Covid spread

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