Singapore – When asked what the favourite pastime or national hobby of Singaporeans is, one would often get the answer “queueing.” With that in mind, here are the top 10 things that Singaporeans queued for in 2020, ranging from Black Friday deals to Swedish meatballs.
1. Snaking queues at supermarkets when the Circuit Breaker was announced
Supermarkets in Singapore experienced an influx in shoppers before and after the Government announced tighter measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19, an initiative which would be called Circuit Breaker.
Even before Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong gave a scheduled speech on April 3 announcing more details on the lockdown, social media was abuzz with posts of members of the public waiting in line at various supermarkets.
Meanwhile, Mr Lee had urged everyone during his announcement to stay at home as much as possible and to only “go out to do essential things.”
2. More queuing at IKEA before the lockdown
As business establishments across Singapore began closing for the Circuit Breaker period, snaking queues were spotted at IKEA’s Alexandria outlet. As netizens criticised those who waited in line to enter the store, one member of the public got triggered and slammed the critics.
A social media post of an individual who joined the queues over that weekend highlighted a toxic response to those who worried a Covid-19 cluster would form because of the crowds. And while many questioned if those who lined up had an urgent reason to visit the store before it closed, others shared they had extra items to purchase such as tables and chairs for working from home.
3. Queues when McDonald’s and barbershops reopened
As various businesses began reopening towards the end of the Circuit Breaker, it appeared as if many were very excited for their fast-food favourite, McDonald’s. Numerous photos of people and vehicles queuing at McDonald’s outlets began circulating on social media.
Despite the fast-food giant’s request to “please don’t rush down” as they reopened on May 11, it was no surprise for many to see Singaporeans waiting in line for a meal. Queues were also spotted in various barbershops as they reopened on May 12.
4. Hundreds line up to buy food for Hari Raya
The holy month of Ramadan began on April 23 this year, and during the weekend when it ended, crowds were seen at Geylang Serai market, a favourite among Singaporeans for their Hari Raya shopping. In this particular instance, members of the public already expected the long lines. “Their love for the market made the wait and long queues worth it,” said a netizen. “Nowhere can anyone get this feeling except in Pasar Geylang Serai,” said another.
5. Long lines spotted at Lucky Plaza
Just before Singapore entered the first phase to exiting the Circuit Breaker period, queues were spotted at Lucky Plaza. This led the concerns and questions being raised by netizens regarding public health and safety.
Many pointed out that Lucky Plaza was a popular venue among Singapore’s migrant workers for its remittance centres with better rates. The photos that circulated online showed people waiting in line, albeit wearing face masks and keeping some distance between one another.
6. Queues sparked by poor planning
A few instances of queuing in 2020 were not by choice. For example, about 200 preschool staff ended up waiting at Khatib MRT on May 15 for their Covid-19 swab tests. The one-time swab testing was extended to over 30,000 preschool and early intervention staff by the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF).
However, due to a scheduling issue experienced by one of the bus service operators, people ended up queuing at the meeting point. Members from the online community responded that the initiative showed “poor planning” and provided suggestions such as scheduling individuals to the closest testing centre to limit crowds.
7. The end of the Circuit Breaker marked by long queues
“I wanted to faint…Siao liao (crazy)” said a member of the public when Phase 2 of exiting the Circuit Breaker was marked with long queues across various areas in Singapore. It appeared that many had a lot of catching up in terms of shopping for their favourite food and drinks. Daiso, IKEA and bubble tea outlets were among the establishments with long lines.
8. IKEA is a favourite queueing spot
Once again, IKEA was placed on the spotlight online when photos of long queues at the outlet’s cafeteria went viral. The uploaded images took place at IKEA’s Tampines outlet. Customers were waiting in line for a meal at the in-house restaurant known for its Swedish meatballs.
Netizens highlighted that all in all, IKEA was a good venue. It has free parking, a canteen where shoppers can sit with friends and family, a play area for the kids, shopping venues, and free aircon.
9. People rushing for Black Friday deals
Early Black Friday morning (Nov 27), shoppers were spotted queueing for some great deals, despite many retail stores moving to online sales for the event. Veteran Black Friday shoppers mentioned they preferred seeing and feeling the items they wished to purchase compared to making a less-informed decision through online shopping.
10. Crowds waiting for hours to check into a hotel
One of the more recent events of Singaporeans queueing was for the SingapoRediscover Vouchers used for a staycation. One hotel, in particular, experienced a surge in guests which led to them waiting for four hours at the reception area. According to an official statement made by the hotel, the guests were encouraged to wait at the holding area or in their restaurants to disperse the crowds. Yet many didn’t want to leave the queue. The ordeal was well documented across social media.