[UPDATE Sept 17] Although social distancing ambassadors (SDAs) were on the ground to manage the crowds outside Paya Lebar Square on Sept 13, they took longer to disperse them due to the heavy rain, Enterprise Singapore (ESG) told AsiaOne.
Many people sought shelter from the rain outside the mall that day, leading to congestion in the area as they were unable to move off to other common spaces.
The area shown in the video clip is a popular meeting point that sees higher volumes of visitors especially on Sundays, ESG noted.
To manage the crowd situation there, ESG said it ramped up the deployment of SDAs on weekends. Common sitting areas were crossed out and common outdoor furniture were also removed to reduce gathering points.
"We will continue to monitor the situation and work with PLS and the transport operator to put in place additional measures, where necessary, to improve the crowd management and observation of safe distancing in the area," ESG said.
We're not out of the woods, yet people continue to congregate at some public spaces during the ongoing pandemic.
This time around, a crowd was spotted at Paya Lebar Square on Sunday (Sept 13).
A video clip circulating on Facebook showed a throng of people standing at the area in between the train station and the shopping mall.
Although they were wearing face masks, the shoppers did not keep a one-metre distance from each other.
After watching the clip, some netizens were quick to criticise the behaviour, stating that people are getting careless about following Covid-19 regulations nowadays.
But others suggested that people had gathered there to seek shelter from the rain.https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=3470651482956550
One netizen took the lack of social distancing in stride, reasoning that practising good hygiene such as wearing a face mask, washing or sanitising hands while outside is sufficient to protect a person against the coronavirus.
However, such crowds are not unique to Paya Lebar Square. It's a common sight at shopping malls around the island during the weekends, netizens noted.
They also offered suggestions such as deploying more safe distancing ambassadors and enforcement officers to ramp up checks in the area.
AsiaOne has reached out to the Singapore Tourism Board and Enterprise Singapore for comment.
Gatherings at public spaces on weekends
In recent months, large gatherings in public spaces have come under the spotlight among fears of community spread of the coronavirus.
It saw ramped up checks at popular recreation spots such as East Coast Park and Toa Payoh Town Park, as well as additional safe distancing measures at shopping malls such as Lucky Plaza and Peninsula Plaza on Aug 29.
The new rules, which allow people with odd numbers in their ID cards to enter the premises on odd dates, and vice versa, were introduced to reduce overcrowding at the two malls which normally attract large crowds and long queues on weekends.
It follows a system that was introduced in April to manage crowds at popular wet markets, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong explained.
Singapore is currently in phase 2 of reopening and the 'group of five' rule continues to apply to gatherings outside of the home.
As of Sept 14, Singapore has 57,454 Covid-19 cases with 27 deaths related to the disease.
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