COVID-19: Singapore to distribute improved reusable masks via vending machines, community centres from May 26

COVID-19: Singapore to distribute improved reusable masks via vending machines, community centres from May 26

Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing trying out vending machine
Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing trying out the vending machine for the improved reusable masks. (Photo: Cindy Co)

SINGAPORE: Singapore residents will be able to collect improved reusable face masks from next Tuesday (May 26), as part of the country’s third mask distribution exercise.

Residents can collect their masks from 24-hour vending machines at all community clubs until Jun 14, said the People’s Association in a media release on Thursday. 

Masks will also be available from community club and residents’ committee counters from May 26 to Jun 1.

Table: Where to collect improved reusable masks
How members of the public can collect the new reusable masks. (Image: People's Association)

This will be Singapore's third nationwide distribution of masks, and the cloth face coverings will have better bacterial filtration capabilities than those from previous distributions.

These new reusable masks are an improvement on the ones distributed previously, Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing told reporters at Pek Kio Community Club.

"When we first went in, I ordered (the first type of mask) because we didn't know when we can get the better material," he said, adding that they were the "fastest available" at the time.

READ: Singapore to distribute ‘better’ reusable face masks to households

The new masks will have at least three layers of material and boast a bacterial filtration efficiency of at least 95 per cent even after 30 washes, said the People’s Association.

“New materials have also been used for these masks to improve their resistance to droplets and comfort for the users,” it said.

Both adult-sized and child-sized masks will be available, but only identity documents for children aged 12 years and under may be used to collect child-sized masks. 

Adult-sized masks are available for all, but each person may only receive one mask per valid identification card.

Adult sized mask (left) and child sized mask
The adult-sized (left) and child-sized improved reusable masks. (Photo: Cindy Co)

All Singapore residents with a valid identification card - including foreign domestic workers, foreign workers who are not living in dormitories and international students living in hostels - are eligible for the masks, said the People’s Association. 

Masks for foreign workers living in dormitories will be distributed via the Ministry of Manpower. 

For the third distribution exercise, the Government has prepared six million masks, similar to the exercise before it, said Mr Chan.

To avoid having people crowding at collection points, the People’s Association advised having one family member to collect masks on behalf of their household. 

This person will have to bring along each household member’s Government-issued identification document (with barcode).

Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing trying out manual collection
Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing trying out manual collection of the improved reusable masks. (Photo: Cindy Co)

Collection points will have safe distancing and hygiene measures to protect residents, volunteers and staff members, said the People’s Association.

This includes the implementation of temperature-taking as well as cleaning and restocking vending machines regularly. All high-touch areas on the vending machines are also treated with a self-disinfecting coating which can last for three months.

Provided by Temasek Foundation, the 24-hour vending machines will have instructions in four different languages to guide residents through the mask collection process. They will be operational from 10am on May 26.

Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing trying out vending machine (1)
Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing trying out the vending machine for the improved reusable masks. (Photo: Cindy Co)
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Members of the public can visit the MaskGoWhere website to get more information, or to check the availability of masks in the vending machines.

Around 150 Singapore Armed Forces servicemen and about 40 military vehicles were involved in the mask distribution exercise, said the People’s Association.

They assisted in breaking bulk and transporting the masks to community clubs across the island.

The exercise is also supported by RedeemSG, a mobile app and system developed by Open Government Products, a division under GovTech. 

The app allows government officers and volunteers to track the redemption of goods, vouchers and tickets.

For this round of mask distribution, PA staff and volunteers will help record those who have redeemed their mask “to ensure that every resident is able to receive their mask allocation”, said the People’s Association.

READ: Singapore households to get 4 face masks each amid worries over Wuhan virus

Singapore’s third mask distribution exercise was announced by Mr Chan on May 6. 

It follows the Government’s first distribution of four surgical masks to each household in February and another distribution of reusable cloth masks last month.

NATIONAL MASK STOCKPILE

The Government is continuing to stockpile three kinds of masks as part of its national strategy, said Mr Chan. They are the N95 mask, surgical masks and reusable masks.

However the Government will never be "overconfident" in its supply of masks, added the minister.

"At this point in time, nobody knows how serious and how long this pandemic is going to be worldwide. So we would never be complacent and say that we have enough," he said.

"From the MTI (Ministry of Trade and Industry) perspective, it is an ongoing process to relook at our supply line every day to see what are the potential demand and supply issues that we have to contend with two, three months down the road."

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Editor’s note: This story has been updated after GovTech clarified that the RedeemSG app will allow Government officers and volunteers, rather than users, to track the redemption of goods, vouchers and tickets.

Source: CNA/nh(nc)

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