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Singapore

More COVID-19 tests, coloured wristbands for workers among enhanced measures at Pasir Panjang Wholesale Centre

SINGAPORE: Pasir Panjang Wholesale Centre will reopen at 3pm on Thursday (Sep 30) with new safe management measures, after a three-day closure due to COVID-19 cases there.

People working at the wholesale centre will now have to undergo rostered routine testing every seven days instead of 14, said the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) said in a media release.

On-arrival testing for trade visitors, which was put in place since August, will continue.

All tenants and workers entering the wholesale centre must also wear coloured wristbands according to the sector they are working in. They will not be allowed to "cross sectors unnecessarily", said SFA.

Controls have been placed on the number of workers of each tenant who can access the coldroom sector.

The number will be based on factors such as the size of the coldroom they lease and other operational requirements, said SFA.

Workers who access the coldrooms will have to be tested for COVID-19 twice a week and have negative results before they are allowed to enter.

In addition, a maximum capacity of 250 trade visitors will be implemented at Block 13A of the vegetable sector during night trading hours, said the agency.

Prior to reopening, deep cleaning and disinfection of the premises was conducted, said SFA.

Tenant and workers were also required to undergo polymerase chain reaction tests, with only those testing negative allowed to resume operations.

EARLIER MEASURES

About 30 per cent of Singapore's fruit imports and 50 per cent of vegetable imports are handled at Pasir Panjang Wholesale Centre.

In announcing the temporary closure of the premises on Sunday, SFA said there would be “some” disruptions to Singapore’s fruit and vegetable supply, but that this would be only for "a very short period".

As of Wednesday, there were 127 COVID-19 cases linked to the wholesale centre. Of those, 115 were workers are the market, four were trade visitors and eight were household members of cases.

Outlining earlier measures already in place at Pasir Panjang Wholesale Centre, SFA said on Thursday that entry to the centre has been restricted to authorised people - primarily tenants, workers and traders - since March last year.

All visitors are screened for authorised entry passes before entering and have to perform TraceTogether SafeEntry.

Safe distancing ambassadors and enforcement officers have been conducting frequent surveillance in the premises to ensure compliance with safety measures, added SFA.

"Enforcement officers also ensure that foreign delivery personnel carry out contactless deliveries and remain near to their vehicles at all times," it said.

Foreign delivery personnel have designated toilet facilities at the wholesale centre, which are separate from those used by tenants and workers.

Additionally, since August, unloading of goods from foreign trucks has been performed by tenants' workers only, to prevent mingling with foreign crew during the unloading process, said the agency.

Mr Melvin Chow, senior director of SFA's food infrastructure development and management division, thanked the industry for working with the agency to implement safety measures since the onset of the pandemic, and to identify areas for tightened measures.

"We will continue to monitor the operations at Pasir Panjang Wholesale Centre and work with stakeholders to resolve any teething issues and further refine the enhanced measures if necessary to the unique working conditions of Pasir Panjang Wholesale Centre," he said.

Source: CNA/dv(rw)

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