SINGAPORE: Access to four popular markets will soon be restricted based on the last digit of patrons' identification card numbers, said the National Environment Agency (NEA) on Tuesday (Apr 21), as Singapore extended its COVID-19 "circuit breaker" period by four more weeks.
Starting Wednesday, patrons visiting Geylang Serai Market, Chong Pang Market (Block 104/105 Yishun Ring Road), Block 20/21 Marsiling Lane and Block 505 Jurong West Street 52 may only do so according to the last digit of their National Registration Identification Card (NRIC) or Foreign Identification Number (FIN).
Those whose last digit on their ID card is an even number, such as 0, 2, 4, 6 and 8, may only visit these markets on the even dates of the month. Those whose last digit is an odd number, such as 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9, may only visit these markets on the odd dates of the month.
NEA said that controlled entry and exit points to markets it manages has helped to maintain safe distancing at these venues. However, long queues were observed at certain popular markets, especially during weekends.
To address this, NEA urged patrons to make further adjustments to their marketing hours by patronising markets during weekdays or in the non-peak period on weekends such as after 10am. It also published peak hours and queue situation at 39 popular markets, and provided patrons with a list of alternative markets located nearby.
"These measures have helped to spread the crowd slightly and market patrons have started to make some adjustments," said the agency, adding that from Apr 7 to Apr 19, more patrons were observed to have visited markets during less crowded hours.
However, long queues were still seen over the last weekend at the four popular markets named above, said NEA.
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From Wednesday, patrons of these markets will have to produce appropriate forms of identification at the entry points for verification. Those who are unable to do so will be denied entry.
Patrons who require assistance with their marketing, such as the elderly and persons with disability, may have a member of the same household or foreign domestic worker accompanying them to the market. At least one person between them has to meet the odd or even date entry restriction.
"In general, we continue to encourage the elderly to avoid visiting markets, especially during peak hours, and to seek help for their marketing needs," said NEA.
"Members of the public are urged to take safe distancing measures at markets and hawker centres seriously, and do our part to help make the current circuit breaker measures a success," it added.
In response to CNA's queries, NEA said the move to restrict entry may be extended to more markets if needed.
"We will monitor the situation closely and may consider doing so if we need to further enhance the crowd management to help support the current circuit breaker and halt the transmission of COVID-19 in Singapore," said a spokesperson.
The initiative came shortly after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced the extension of the circuit breaker by four weeks.
The circuit breaker, which was supposed to end on May 4, will now conclude on Jun 1, as Singapore attempts to "decisively" bring down the number of COVID-19 community cases.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Ministry of Health said there were 1,111 new cases of the coronavirus in Singapore, bringing the national total to 9,125.