Loopholes around Covid-19 rules? Seniors intermingling at coffee shop in Jurong worries residents

The crowd at S-11 Taman Jurong Food House in Yung Sheng Road two weeks ago at around 9pm.
PHOTO: Lianhe Wanbao

A group of seniors who gather nightly to drink and chat late into the night at a coffee shop in Jurong West has raised some concerns among residents, in light of the current high number of Covid-19 cases.

Even though the seniors - mostly men - are seated in pairs, they are frequently seen talking to one another across tables, the residents said.

Housewife Jenni Ang, who lives a couple of blocks away from S-11 Taman Jurong Food House in Yung Sheng Road, told The New Paper: "It is worrying because they look like they are following the rules, but they are actually finding loopholes around it."

The 42-year-old, who buys takeaway from the coffee shop about three times a week, added: "Look at the number of Covid-19 cases now. What if a cluster forms here?"

Current rules state that patrons at hawker centres and coffee shops are to sit either alone or in pairs, regardless of vaccination status. The rule was implemented after a dining ban, imposed on July 22, was lifted on August 10.

A 46-year-old unemployed man who wanted to be known only as Mr Jay told The New Paper yesterday: "We are social creatures, so this cannot be helped. We already make it a point to sit in (pairs), and when we talk to our friends at other tables, we keep a distance."

Tearing up, he added: "My brother suffered a stroke recently and is now bedridden. My mother is almost 80. And I have to care for both of them. What other ways do I have to relax? How else can I escape from the stress?"

When asked if the spike in virus cases worries him, Mr Jay shook his head.

"We are all tired of Covid-19. There may be more cases now, but I am fully vaccinated so I feel like I have nothing to be afraid of," he said.

Pest control worker Ali Juaini, 62, said he enjoys catching up with friends at the coffee shop but makes it a point not to intermingle and to stop drinking alcohol at 10.30pm.

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"Sometimes, the police would be seen patrolling the area at around 10.15pm to remind us of the rules. We have no choice but to comply," he added.

Stall holders TNP spoke to said it is "routine" for people to pack the coffee shop after dinner time, mostly to drink and chat.

Ms Wong Yuen Li, 25, who works at the economy rice stall that closes at 11.30pm, said: "There are always many older folks gathering to drink alcohol late at night. They sit in tables of two but can be seen intermingling. If cases are linked here, we may have to shut down and that affects so many of us."

A man who identified himself as a supervisor at the coffee shop and who declined to be named, said alcohol sales are prohibited after 10pm.

He added that at 10.30pm, people usually start to leave and by 11.30pm, the crowd would have thinned significantly.

This article was first published in The New PaperPermission required for reproduction.