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Coronavirus: Hawkers can eat at table directly in front of stall but must do so alone, says NEA

coronavirus hawkers can eat at table directly in front of stall but must do so alone says nea v1

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Hawkers can eat at tables immediately in front of their stalls but should do so alone, the National Environment Agency (NEA) clarified on Friday (April 10).

Confusion had arisen among some stallholders who were afraid of breaking the law if they ate at a table, as dining-in at eateries and hawker centres has been banned under stricter safe-distancing measures.

The NEA told The Straits Times that hawkers may need to eat at their centres during off-peak hours: “As the space within each stall may not be big enough, stallholders may consume their meals at the table immediately in front of their stalls.”

But they must not share tables or gather with other hawkers, and always maintain a distance of at least 1m from others.

Hawkers who spoke to The Straits Times said they had not been certain if they could eat at their workplaces, as the new measures appeared to forbid this.

Madam Pang, 65, who operates a fishball noodle shop at the Block 1 Jalan Kukoh hawker centre, said she was afraid after seeing enforcement officers chase people away from sitting.

“I don’t really know! So what I do is eat at the table outside my stall but quickly wolf down my food and then go back inside. I don’t want to break the law,” she said in Mandarin.

Fellow hawker Mr Nan, 60, who runs a wonton noodle stall in the same centre, said officers taped and wrapped up most of the tables and chairs on Thursday morning but left one seat in front of his stall open.

“So I assumed I could sit and eat there, otherwise how (else would we eat)?” he said.

The NEA said there is “nothing to stop patrons” waiting for takeaways to sit down but they must maintain a distance of at least 1m from others and avoid seats marked as not to be used.

They should also collect their food promptly when it’s ready and leave the centre.

The NEA encouraged those in vulnerable groups like the elderly to ask family members or neighbours to buy food from the hawker centre or market for them.

If they do need to visit these areas, they should avoid peak hours to avoid crowds and minimise time spent queueing and staying outside.

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