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Physical Meet-the-People sessions to resume with cap of 50 people or less

Physical Meet-the-People sessions to resume with cap of 50 people or less
Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean during a Meet-the-People session in Pasir Ris on March 13, 2020.
PHOTO: Lianhe Zaobao

Meet-the-People sessions (MPS) will be allowed to resume from Monday (Aug 10) with precautionary measures such as capping overall crowd size to 50 or less, the National Environment Agency (NEA) has said.

The move is aimed at facilitating interaction between MPs and their constituents now that the country is in phase two of its reopening, NEA said.

The allowed crowd size will depend on the size of each MPS venue, it added. Crowd size comprises all persons in the MPS venue, including MPs, activists and residents, as well as those in the waiting area and queue.

People's Action Party (PAP) MPs told The Straits Times they have been informed of this change, and that they will be implementing additional safety measures for their MPS  from this week.

Ms Foo Mee Har (West Coast GRC) said these measures include using nearby void deck areas for queue management, and to limit the number of people inside her branch to 30, including the MP and volunteers.

"For MPS location at Block 32 Teban Gardens, where the space is available, we will be conducting 'outdoor' MPS, a practice we started pre-circuit breaker in March this year," she said.

"We will be enforcing strict safe distancing, installation of plastic shields, SafeEntry check-in with temperature screening and health declaration. Individuals on stay-home notice, quarantine order or who are ill will be asked to return home."

Workers' Party Aljunied GRC MP Gerald Giam said in a circular to Bedok Reservoir-Punggol residents updated on Friday (Aug 7) that his MPS would be resuming from Aug 12.

Mr Giam told ST that his team - comprising about 15 volunteers at each session - will be using plastic shields, as well as taking measures to ensure residents' safety.

For one thing, residents will be allowed to return home after registering. They will receive a call when their turn approaches.

Priority will also be given to elderly residents.

Mr Giam said he has provided residents with telephone and WhatsApp numbers for them to seek assistance throughout the week, but is still looking forward to assisting residents in-person at a physical session.

"While I have been getting a lot of requests for assistance over electronic channels, I realise that other residents may not be comfortable using these channels and would prefer face-to-face meetings," he said.

"I am concerned that these residents may not have been getting the help they need, which is why I am looking forward to assisting them at our physical MPS."

A PAP spokesman said the party's branches will adhere to safety guidelines, such as making sure there is sufficient physical space to allow safe distancing between persons and groups. Temperature taking and the use of SafeEntry for checking-in will also be required.

"Wherever possible, MPS cases can continue to be addressed either via phone, online or email," he said.

The sessions have been largely virtual affairs in recent months due to social distancing rules put in place to stop the spread of Covid-19, and remained so when they resumed after the July 10 general election.

Given that Monday is a public holiday, the rules will kick in the following week for constituencies that hold their MPS on Monday.

PAP Tampines GRC MP Desmond Choo said he will resume his sessions for Tampines Changkat residents from Aug 17.

He said his team will be observing safe measures closely, such as conducting interviews from behind acrylic screens.

"The crux is also to manage numbers so that we do not have big crowds. For example, we will be continuing e-MPS and having priority queues to prevent crowd build-ups."

This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.

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