SINGAPORE – Crowds continued to flock to Lucky Plaza and Peninsula Plaza on Sunday (April 25), with long snaking queues seen outside both malls.
Within the malls, the situation was more manageable with enough space for shoppers to move around.
When The Straits Times visited Peninsula Plaza around 4pm, a huge crowd was seen outside both entrances of the mall, with people standing shoulder-to-shoulder, jostling to get inside the building.
Shortly after, police officers arrived and turned away a large group of people. Security guards cordoned off the entrances and told people to come back an hour later as there were too many people in the building.
Braving the hour-long queue was 37-year-old domestic worker Wim Mayand her group of friends.
She said: “It’s usually crowded every weekend, but I want to buy my traditional food, so I have no choice. I would like to come every weekend, but I’ve since cut down because I’m a little worried about the crowds.”
Queues were also seen outside Lucky Plaza, with safe distancing officers keeping a close eye on the line of people entering the mall.
Shouts of “one line one metre” rang out, with those who crossed the one-metre safe distancing mark being reprimanded and called out.
The authorities had, on April 10, lifted weekend entry restrictions on Lucky Plaza and Peninsula Plaza, which are popular with migrant workers here.
Under the restrictions, which had been in place since last August last year, entry to these malls on odd and even dates were based on the last digit of identification numbers.
Last Thursday, Lucky Plaza was added to Space Out, a website by the Urban Redevelopment Authority that allows people to check the real-time crowd situation at places they plan to visit before heading down. Peninsula Plaza is currently not listed on the website.
Launched in April last year with the aim of reducing overcrowding at public spaces, the website now has crowd level data for 71 malls, up from 50 when it was first launched.
Lucky Plaza was listed as ‘Not crowded’ on the website when ST visited around 2.30pm.
Both malls had safe distancing officers, some armed with walkie-talkies, patrolling around the building and chasing people away whenever they were seen to be idling along the corridor or chatting with their friends.
A sign that said “No waiting in this area” was placed in the middle of an open space on the first floor of Lucky Plaza.
Mr Daniel Wong, who sells phone accessories in the mall, said: “Before this, there would be small groups idling at this open space and chit-chatting, but now they will be chased away. It may not be good for business but it’s more spaced out now. Safety comes first.”
But not everyone felt the same way, with some shopkeepers feeling the measures were driving away their customers.
Mr Gary Li, 33, a manager of a souvenir shop in Lucky Plaza, said: “I would prefer the previous system of restricting entry with identification numbers because the crowds were easier to manage. Now they may close off the mall whenever the crowds get too big, and people may not want to wait for the mall to reopen.”
Similar safe management measures were seen inside Peninsula Plaza. A safe distancing officer positioned himself on the ground floor and told those idling against the railings on the upper floors that loitering was not allowed.
Staff at both balls also made shoppers check out of the SafeEntry system when leaving.
Mr Myat Minsoe, 50, who runs a minimart in Peninsula Plaza, said the mall was slightly more crowded compared to when the odd and even entry was in place.
He said: “It’s obviously not as crowded as pre-Covid, because now there are time constraints and the number of people allowed to come in is being limited. But the crowds are picking up, so business is a little better.”
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