SINGAPORE: Singapore’s stocks are “adequate” and “supply lines are intact”, said Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing on Friday (May 14) as long queues were observed at supermarkets following the announcement of tighter COVID-19 measures.
“All retail outlets, including supermarkets, will remain open during this period. Our stocks are adequate. Our supply lines are intact," said Mr Chan in a Facebook post.
“Let us continue to remember to buy only what we need and look out for the more vulnerable among us.”
It was announced on Friday that dining-in at all food and beverage outlets would be suspended from May 16 through Jun 13 amid a rise in COVID-19 community cases.
Shortly after that, photos and videos of long queues and empty shelves at supermarkets surfaced on social media.
In response to CNA's queries, Dairy Farm Group said it has seen an increase in store traffic after the latest announcements.
“We want to encourage customers to shop safely and responsibly as they can be assured that we have sufficient stock across our stores and warehouses. All Cold Storage and Giant supermarkets are well-prepared to meet customers’ needs,” said the company’s spokesperson.
“We have put in place measures to ensure that our supply chain remains diversified and robust, and is able to evolve with the changing environment and any anticipated challenges.”
The staff manpower in Dairy Farm Group supermarkets has also been increased for crowd management and to ensure that customers adhere to safe distancing measures, said the spokesperson.
The TraceTogether gateway system and app have also been implemented to enable contact tracing, and the number of customers in each store will be limited, the spokesperson added. High touch point areas like baskets and trolleys are also disinfected every two hours.
A Sheng Siong spokesperson also echoed the same sentiment: “We advise customers to stay calm, and do not over purchase on groceries and necessities. Our sources of supply are well-diversified and we will continue to work closely with our suppliers.”
The supermarket’s supply chain is “resilient” and it has sufficient local inventory for food supplies and toiletries to meet customers’ daily needs, the spokesman told CNA.
“Our stores will remain open and we will continue to replenish our stocks regularly.”
In a press release on Friday, NTUC FairPrice said its network of stores and online shopping portal will remain open “and there is no need to rush or over purchase" during this period.
“While there will not be any purchase limits imposed, the co-operative is monitoring the situation closely and urges all shoppers to only buy what they need while continuing to observe safe management protocols."
The company said it has also increased its inventory holding for certain categories of products like high-demand items such as rice, noodles and paper products.
FairPrice added that it maintains a stockpile of more than three months’ worth of rice.
FairPrice Group chief executive and Member of Parliament Seah Kian Peng also took to Facebook following Friday’s announcement.
“We are seeing more traffic and bigger purchases at our FairPrice stores and online platform since the announcement at midday,” he wrote.
Mr Seah said in the press release that the team is “in a better position” to manage the situation from the experience gained last year.
“However, we seek our customers' patience and understanding that due to the larger crowd volume and bigger basket sizes during this period, we may require a slightly longer time to replenish our shelves and queuing time may also be slightly longer,” he added.
ONLINE GROCERY SHOPPING
Foodpanda has seen a 50 per cent increase in orders on pandamart after the announcement earlier on Friday, specifically on essential goods such as toilet paper, canned and frozen foods as well as instant noodles, said a spokesperson for the company.
“We currently do not have any plans to put in place purchase caps on essential items,” the spokesperson added.
In response to CNA queries, a Lazada spokesman said RedMart has “sufficient stocks for everyday essentials” like rice, flour, meats, noodles and toilet paper.
CNA has observed purchase caps on some items on RedMart, including paper products and rice.
“We remain committed to fulfilling orders, and will continue to add daily delivery slots, as well as increase delivery capacity, to cater to the increase,” said the spokesman, adding that sources have been scaled up to meet growing demand.
“We have diversified our supply chain to ensure that our suppliers continue to provide us with the necessary items on a daily basis,” the Lazada spokesman said. “We encourage customers to shop responsibly in light of the new measures, and only buy what is necessary.”
In addition to suspending dining-in at F&B outlets, the current size of group gatherings allowed will be reduced from five people to two people, announced co-chair of the COVID-19 multi-ministry task force Lawrence Wong on Friday. This follows a spike in COVID-19 community cases in recent weeks.
Singapore reported 24 community cases among the 52 new COVID-19 infections as of Friday. This is the highest number of new daily COVID-19 cases since Jan 30, when 58 cases were reported.
Twenty of the new community cases are linked to previous clusters, of which 13 have been linked to the Changi Airport cluster.