Written Reply by Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment, to Parliamentary Question on Resilient Hawker Centres
Mr Melvin Yong Yik Chye: To ask the Minister for Sustainability and the Environment as Singapore moves to become a COVID-19 resilient country (a) whether the SafeEntry control access and the reduced seating capacities will be permanent features of our hawker centres moving forward; and (b) if so, whether the Ministry can relook at the post-pandemic hawker landscape to find ways to help the hawkers to become COVID-19 resilient so that we can move past the need for continual one-off relief packages.
1 Safe Management Measures (SMMs) at hawker centres, such as access control to facilitate SafeEntry check-in and restrictions on dine-in group sizes, are measures to slow down community transmissions as Singapore transits towards a COVID-19 resilient nation. The SafeEntry system helps to identify and ring-fence COVID-19 cases through contact tracing, while seating restrictions facilitate safe distancing between dining groups. The SMMs will be reviewed and recalibrated regularly based on the prevailing COVID-19 situation.
2 The National Environment Agency (NEA) has rolled out several programmes to make our hawker centres safe and clean, and help our hawkers adapt and pivot to new business models in a post-pandemic world.
3 These programmes include the Hawker Centres Transformation Programme (HTP) and the Hawker Centre Toilet Improvement Programme (HCTIP). Under the HTP, which will be progressively implemented at all new and redeveloped hawker centres, hawkers and patrons can look forward to improvements such as better ventilation and wider aisles. Town Councils can also tap on funding under the HCTIP to install better fittings and technology for easier cleaning and maintenance of the toilets at hawker centres. NEA is also consulting stakeholders in new hawker centres as well as those undergoing significant Repairs & Redecoration, to improve spacing at the dining areas to facilitate SMMs should they be needed. These measures will help to improve public hygiene and make our hawker centres more resilient to public health risks.
4 In addition, an Alliance for Action (AfA) on online ordering, comprising hawker representatives, online food delivery platforms, community groups as well as NEA and the Infocomm Media Development Agency (IMDA), has been convened to help hawkers, especially those who are less digitally savvy, increase their online presence and extend customer reach. The AfA will be piloting their recommendations over the next few months. An example is the setting up of Digital Support for Hawkers (DSH) groups to support and strengthen the digital presence of hawker centres. In addition, the AfA will pilot a ‘Common Acquirer’ model for food delivery at 14 hawker centres, which will allow hawkers easier access to customers of all participating online ordering platforms, along with an integrated interface to receive and manage orders.