The new vaccination-differentiated safe management measures (VDS) in Singapore preliminarily kicked in on Wednesday, Oct. 13.
Unvaxxed persons cannot enter malls
Unvaccinated individuals are not allowed to enter malls and attractions in the country.
However, there are two exceptions:
- Unvaccinated persons can enter malls to go to a general practitioner (GP) or a dental clinic for medical treatment.
- Unvaccinated persons can also enter malls to send their children to childcare services.
For children under the age of 12, they are exempted from the VDS.
To allow the public to familiarise themselves with the new measures, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said that there will be a grace period from Oct. 13 to 19.
The situation in three different malls
Mothership went down to three malls in Tampines central from around 1:30pm to see how they were enforcing the new measures.
The three malls — Century Square, Tampines Mall, and Tampines 1 — are located in close proximity to one another.
In general, there were some inconsistencies and confusion on the ground, as experienced by both the general public and the SafeEntry ambassadors.
There were three entry and exit points at Century Square, with a SafeEntry ambassador deployed at each location.
The first entry point was located near the mall's taxi stand.
Speaking to Mothership, the SafeEntry ambassador said he would check the vaccination statuses of each person before they enter the mall.
If a person was unvaccinated, he would still allow them in, although he would advise them to get their vaccination doses once the grace period for this new measure is over.
He also told Mothership that some members of the public refused to show their vaccination status.
"Got some people think I know their status already after they check in [with TraceTogether], but I still need them to show me," the SafeEntry ambassador said.
He added that there were a few patrons who weren't even aware of the new measures, and he had to explain it to them.
The second entry point in Century Square was located opposite Tampines Mall.
Mothership noticed that the SafeEntry ambassador at this entry point did not check the vaccination statuses of the patrons. Each patron only had to check in using the TraceTogether app or token before entering the mall.
When approached by Mothership, the SafeEntry ambassador declined to comment, but she nodded when asked if the situation was okay.
The last entry point in Century Square was located near the road, facing Tampines Bus Interchange.
The SafeEntry ambassador at this entry point told Mothership that she checked the vaccination statuses of each patron before they were allowed in.
She said the situation was "busier than usual" as more checks had to be done.
Mothership noticed that some patrons managed to enter the mall without showing their vaccination status. When asked why they did not show their vaccination status, they refused to comment.
We also visited a GP in Century Square to see how they were coping with the new measures.
A staff from Dayspring Medical Clinic told Mothership that they do not check the patients' vaccination statuses as that would have already been done at the entry points of the mall.
The staff member added that whoever had an appointment to see a doctor in the clinic will be allowed in, regardless of vaccination status and upon following Covid-19 safe management measures (SMMs).
Mothership subsequently visited a dental clinic in Century Square, but was told that the clinic was closed.
Apart from one staff member, there was no one else in the clinic.
The second mall Mothership visited — Tampines Mall — had two entry and exit points, with a SafeEntry ambassador deployed at both locations.
The queues were noticeably longer there. Each patron had to wait a maximum of five minutes before they could check in.
The SafeEntry ambassador at this entry point — which is located opposite Tampines MRT station — can be seen checking each person's vaccination status consistently.
Those who were unvaccinated could enter the mall, but they would be advised accordingly. Once the grace period is over, unvaccinated persons will not be allowed to enter the mall.
The second entry in Tampines Mall was located opposite Century Square.
The SafeEntry ambassador at this entry point told Mothership that the queues earlier in the morning were longer than what he was used to.
He also said that the iPad used to check customers in was laggy, thus causing the queuing time to drag further.
"It's very busy ah. The queue [was] very long," he added.
Similarly to the first entry point, patrons had to show their vaccination status to the SafeEntry ambassador.
Those who were unvaccinated would still be allowed in during this grace period, although they would be advised accordingly.
Responding to queries from Mothership a spokesperson from CapitaLand, which manages Tampines Mall, said:
"CapitaLand remains guided by the authorities’ vaccination-differentiated safe management measures starting from Oct. 13, 2021, and continues to provide a safe environment at our malls to ensure the wellbeing of our shoppers, tenants and staff.
Our staff are on ground to verify the vaccination status, test result and relevant identification of visitors when checking in with SafeEntry through the entry and exit points.
We thank our shoppers, tenants and staff for their understanding and cooperation in continuing to adhere to the safe management measures."
Things were slightly different at Tampines 1. There were two entry and exit points located at each end of the mall, and a SafeEntry ambassador was deployed at each entry point.
At the first entry point, which was located in front of Tampines MRT Station, patrons could be seen entering the mall efficiently as the SafeEntry ambassador stood by and observed.
The SafeEntry ambassador told Mothership that he did not have to check each person's vaccination status.
Everyone, regardless of their vaccination status, was allowed to go into the mall after checking in.
This would be the regulation at Tampines 1 during the grace period, the SafeEntry ambassador explained.
"Some people still show their vaccination status to me, but actually for this first week, they don't need to," he added.
At the other end of the of the mall, things appeared to be the same — everyone, regardless of vaccination status, could enter the mall after checking in.
The SafeEntry ambassador at this entry point told Mothership that once the grace period is over, the situation would be different.
Each patron would then have to show their vaccination status before entering the mall, and unvaccinated individuals who need to enter the mall for their medical appointment must produce a doctor's letter upon entry.
Mothership visited Raffles Medical located in Tampines 1 and found that only those with a valid medical appointment were allowed into the clinic, regardless of vaccination status.
Walk-ins were not accepted.
In response to queries from Mothership, a spokesperson from Frasers Property Retail, which manages Century Square and Tampines 1, explained that it took some time for the malls to get used to the new measures.
But as of Oct. 13 afternoon, all entry points located in the malls managed by Frasers Property have implemented the same protocol, and vaccination checks were also done consistently.
The spokesperson said:
"The safety and wellbeing of our tenants, shoppers and staff remain our top priority. All 14 malls of Frasers Property Retail have implemented the new VDS (Vaccination-Differentiated Safe Management Measures) as per the government’s guidelines, to ensure that our malls remain safe spaces for the community.
We are working closely with our tenants to ensure a smooth transition to the new processes.
We urge all shoppers and visitors to our malls to remain patient and cooperate with our staff as we work together to adhere to the new measures."
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Top image by Syahindah Ishak.