COVID-19: MPs and political parties implement precautionary measures during community outreach
SINGAPORE: Amid the COVID-19 outbreak, Members of Parliament (MPs) and political parties are putting in place various precautionary measures as they continue outreach activities.
These measures include safe distancing at Meet-The-People Sessions (MPSes), eliminating handshakes as well as refraining from entering residents' homes.
Speaking to CNA on Sunday (Mar 22), Jurong GRC MP Ang Wei Neng said: "During house visits, we refrain from shaking hands, (and) bring hand sanitiser for our volunteers to use.
"I have been distributing chrysanthemum tea to residents since Feb 9 during my house visits to remind residents to drink and eat healthily, wash hands often with soap and water," he explained. "(Besides distributing chrysanthemum (tea), I also keep the house visit encounter brief and refrain from entering residents' houses."
Nee Soon GRC MP Louis Ng has doubled the frequency of his outreach activities in order "share the COVID-19 measures to assure residents and to listen to their concerns", he told CNA.
He has added precautionary measures during his activities, such as refraining from shaking hands.
This has been in place for a number of weeks, said Mr Ng. All volunteers who join his home visits also have their temperature taken prior and sign travel declaration forms.
"The house visits, I feel, are important to carry on," he explained.
"You get the chance to chat with residents, we share with them the measures they can take against COVID-19 and you get a chance to assure them of what the Government is doing and also address some of their concerns.
"But at the same time, we need to make sure that we keep everybody safe, so it's not just about me (getting) infected.
"I think, importantly, if I get infected by someone in the block and then I enter everybody's houses - I would have formed a cluster."
Mr Ng, who used to take Polaroid pictures with residents, has stopped the practice.
"(Taking pictures) means you'd have to get quite close together and we've also stopped that. In the sense, we maintain the strict 1m safe distancing. Residents completely understood this morning."
Singapore People's Party (SPP) chairman Jose Raymond also emphasised the need to continue to reach out to residents, and implemented safe distancing protocols.
"Our work in the community has to continue so that residents who are in need of help will be able to reach out to me directly," said Mr Raymond, who is the SPP candidate for Potong Pasir SMC.
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"Along with a very small team, I have continued my door to door community outreach to the new areas in Joo Seng which have come under Potong Pasir since the announcement of the new boundaries. All my volunteers have also been instructed that they are not to attend any of my outreach activities in Potong Pasir if they are unwell.
"We maintain a safe distance from residents and we aren't able to extend a handshake. Residents are understanding."
In a Facebook post on Sunday, Progress Singapore Party (PSP) also said it has "made some changes to the format" of walkabouts and door-to-door visits.
"We scaled down the size of our teams. The door-to-door teams were also equipped with bottles of hand sanitisers and surgical face masks for distribution to the residents," the post read.
"We fist-bumped in lieu of handshakes, and we kept a distance when residents came to meet us at their door."
At Meet-The-People Sessions, temperature-taking and signing of travel declaration forms are already being done, said Ang Mo Kio GRC MP Ang Hin Kee.
This applies to residents, volunteers and the MP, and they get a sticker indicating they have had their temperature taken and have signed the travel declaration.
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In addition, the area is wiped down after the MPS, with hand sanitiser provided for every visitor or helper. These measures have been in place for more than a month.
"We have also urged those who want to can use channels such as emails or Facebook messenger to lodge appeals," he added. "Residents understood and complied with new steps."
Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC MP Zainal Sapari has also implemented measures at his MPS.
"We space the seats but seldom will I have more than 30 residents. Those without seats have to wait outside. I will tell the residents that after seeing my case writers, I would follow up. No need for me to see them personally," he said.
"We take (their) temperature and try to reduce the time residents spend at the venue. I encourage residents to email me if they need help."
Additional reporting by Zhaki Abdullah.