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Brief queues but mostly smooth sailing as malls enforce vaccination-differentiated entry measures

Brief queues but mostly smooth sailing as malls enforce vaccination-differentiated entry measures

A woman checks into a shopping mall on Oct 20, 2021, the first day of the end of the grace period for vaccination-differentiated measures in Singapore. (Photo: Calvin Oh/CNA)

SINGAPORE: While brief queues were occasionally seen outside various shopping malls on Wednesday (Oct 20), vaccination-differentiated entry measures seemed to have been enforced without a hitch following the end of the one-week grace period

CNA visited 18 malls across Singapore between 10am and 2pm on Wednesday. The flow of traffic was largely smooth, with little or no delay for those waiting to enter. 

Under the new rules, those who are unvaccinated are not allowed to enter malls and large standalone stores.

Provisions will be made for unvaccinated people who work there, as well as those who need access to medical and childcare-related services in shopping malls, but these individuals will need to show proof.

The measures were meant to take effect on Oct 13, but a grace period of one week was given for malls to implement them.

Shoppers at Wisma Atria shopping mall getting their vaccination status checked on Oct 20, 2021. (Photo: Calvin Oh/CNA)
A notice detailing vaccination-differentiation measures at an entrance of Velocity @ Novena Square shopping mall on Oct 20, 2021, the first day of the end of the grace period for vaccination-differentiated measures in Singapore. (Photo: Calvin Oh/CNA)
At an entrance of Jem, a security officer checks patrons' vaccination status before allowing them to enter the mall on Oct 20. (Photo: Grace Yeoh)

When CNA visited several malls in Jurong East in the late morning, at least one staff member was seen manning each entrance. 

Every customer who entered Westgate, Jem and JCube was asked for their vaccination status. This was either done by getting them to present their TraceTogether app or by scanning a device that showed their vaccination status.  

“Last week we warned (the unvaccinated). We just tell them (that they won’t be able to enter from Oct 20), don’t force them to do anything. But from today, we have to stop them,” said Mr Guna Segaran, a 68-year-old security officer stationed at one of Jem’s entrances. 

Employees manning the entrance at JCube expressed the same understanding of the measures. 

Unvaccinated delivery riders need to show receipt of the food order to gain entry, while mall staff have to present proof of their employment. Unvaccinated adults can only enter a mall to access childcare services if the child is below the age of 12.

By around 11am, JCube had already turned away two unvaccinated people from one of its entrances.

When CNA attempted to enter Tampines One and Tampines Mall later in the afternoon by flashing only a SafeEntry check-in screen, a staff member was quick to point out that proof of vaccination was required.

At Waterway Point in Punggol, a sign directed unvaccinated visitors to enter via an entrance near the taxi stand along Punggol Central, where a separate lane was set up for checks so it would not interrupt visitor traffic.

However, most heading into the mall appeared to be vaccinated. 

At about noon, a crowd had built up at the entrance to Wisma Atria from Orchard MRT station, although the two people manning the area managed to clear the line quickly. 

The situation was largely uneventful at other malls CNA visited, including NEX, Lucky Plaza and 313@somerset, with staff quickly clearing the fully vaccinated visitors for entry.

At Parkway Parade, only a few visitors trickled into the mall just after lunch, resulting in a smooth traffic flow at the main entrance. 

Even for 67-year-old Mdm Tan Hui Sion, who had not visited the mall for a month despite living nearby, these new measures were “not so troublesome” to understand. 

“It’s the first time in a long while that I’ve been to this shopping mall. But once I come here another time, then I will become more familiar with (the vaccination-differentiated measures),” she told CNA in Mandarin.  

Similarly, the entry process into Parkway Parade was “quite smooth” for a delivery rider who only wanted to be known as Mr Ang. 

“No issue. If you don’t have your TraceTogether token, then just show them your (app),” said the 43-year-old.

Mr Ang added that the process has been equally smooth at other malls and hawker centres he visited as part of his job since the vaccination-differentiated measures kicked in on Oct 13.

MINOR INCONVENIENCES

A queue of about 20 patrons was observed at the entrance of Eastpoint Mall at 1pm, but with the help of safe distancing ambassadors, it took no longer than five minutes for them to enter the mall. 

There was also a minor hold-up at a side entrance of Century Square as a few members of the public needed a staff member to help explain the entry processes.

A notice seen at an entrance of 313@somerset shopping mall on Oct 20, 2021, the first day of the end of the grace period for vaccination-differentiated measures in Singapore. (Photo: Calvin Oh/CNA)

Staff at Velocity@Novena Square said they encountered two unvaccinated visitors on Wednesday morning, both of whom were allowed in as they had legitimate exemption notes.

The mall also keeps a database of staff who are either partially vaccinated or have recognised notices exempting them from being vaccinated. 

For 30-year-old Jeyhun Abbasov, however, the checks proved to be an inconvenience as he was held up for almost five minutes before being allowed in.

Mr Abbasov told CNA he believed this was because while he had received his first dose of the vaccine in Singapore, he had received his second jab during a trip to his native Azerbaijan.

His TraceTogether status had shown him to be fully vaccinated when he returned to Singapore. 

However, on Tuesday, it suddenly changed to show that his vaccination was still in progress, said Mr Abbasov, who works in the oil and gas sector.

As a result, he had to produce digital copies of his vaccination certificates to prove he had received both doses before he was allowed to enter Velocity. 

"It was a hassle," he said, adding that he will approach the Ministry of Health to ask about his TraceTogether status.

At Waterway Point, there were clear signs to separate vaccinated and unvaccinated patrons attempting to enter the mall on Oct 20. (Photo: Zhaki Abdullah)
A queue formed at White Sands mall on Oct 20, as people waited to enter the mall. (Photo: Matthew Mohan)
A woman shows her vaccination status to a safe-distancing ambassador at Velocity @ Novena Square shopping mall on Oct 20, 2021, the first day of the end of the grace period for vaccination-differentiated measures in Singapore. (Photo: Calvin Oh/CNA)

Separately, some mall employees told CNA that it is inevitable to encounter customers who would be rude when asked for their vaccination status.

At Guoco Tower, a safe entry ambassador who only wanted to be known as Jane said she had people tell her off over the last year that she’s been stationed at the mall.

“A lot of people don’t like to (show you their vaccination status). They say, ‘Why do I have to show you? These are my personal details.’ Others don’t have the patience to wait their turn. From the back, some of them just cut in,” she said. 

“I have to be very strict and stern with them. They will give me a nasty look when I ask them to go back to their TraceTogether home page (to show me their vaccination status).”

Jane said she has been insulted “many times”, but is “used to it”. 

“Some people really scold you four-letter words, really. Sometimes I get so immune to them, but I am actually very angry. One guy told me I was doing a stupid job,” she added. 

While she estimates about 30 per cent of patrons give her “a hard time”, most people take the initiative to present their vaccination status before she asks. 

In the 15 minutes CNA spent observing the crowd at Guoco Tower, two people entered the mall via the exit lane without presenting their vaccination status and had to be redirected to the entrance, while another spent five minutes looking for his phone for Jane to check his vaccination status.

A security officer who only wanted to be known as Dave took over Jane’s duty while she was in the restroom. He said he understands when patrons are rude.

“No one has been rude (to me) but even if they are, I understand. It’s because they’re rushing for time and there may be 30 to 40 people in line,” he said. 

Source: CNA/mt(gs)

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