Since 16 May, Singapore went under Phase 2 (Heightened Alert), which means we can gather in groups of only 2.
However, any HDB resident would’ve seen groups of elderly residents hanging out around their estate.
A resident observed this near his Yishun block, pointing out that not only are they not keeping to the rule of 2, many of the uncles had their masks down below their chins.
Upon learning of this, MP for the area Carrie Tan empathised with the seniors.
She said the latest restrictions have made it difficult for them to make social connections, and wishes to strike a balance.
An Yishun resident known only as Mr Zhuo reported the gatherings to Shin Min Daily News, saying they started when the no dine-in rule kicked in.
He’s seen uncles and aunties drinking, chatting and making a lot of noise at and around Block 848, Yishun Street 81.
The block is known as Khatib Central, and houses various shops, kopitiams and eateries.
The seniors would start gathering in the afternoon, and by nightfall there would as many as 10.
Some of them wouldn’t be wearing their masks or observing safe distancing, he added.
Even when safe distancing ambassadors came, they couldn’t do anything, the reader claimed.
When Shin Min Daily News went to the block on Tuesday (25 May) at about 7pm, they saw more than 20 people gathering near the area.
They were in various small groups, chatting, drinking and smoking.
One of them, 68-year-old Mr Yu, said he’s not afraid of getting Covid-19 as he’s already fully vaccinated.
Since they can’t sit at the kopitiams now, he added, the authorities should tape up the benches near the blocks if they don’t want people to sit there.
Another man, 72-year-old Mr Tan, said it was too hot at home so he decided to come down for a chat.
At about 9pm, reporters also saw people eating at the void deck, as well as about 5 people chatting around a table.
In a Facebook post on Friday (28 May), Nee Soon South MP Carrie Tan addressed the issue, showing empathy for the seniors instead of disapproval.
She acknowledged that the tightened Covid-19 measures had “made life difficult” for them.
While working adults and children may be able to connect with colleagues and schoolmates daily, it’s different for elderly people.
Usually, their only social connections are their daily catchups with friends at neighbourhood kopitiams.
Now that no dining in is allowed, if they don’t have anywhere to hang out their mental health and well-being may be affected, she added.
Ms Tan also understands that seniors who’re fully vaccinated might think they’re fully protected against the Covid-19 and can’t spread it to others.
Hence, they might not be so concerned about proper mask-wearing and safe distancing.
It’s thus “unfortunate” that media articles highlighted the issue, bringing attention to the seniors.
Ms Tan indicated that in the case of seniors, strict enforcement might not be the answer.
Rather, a balance must be struck between enforcing Covid-19 measures and taking seniors’ social needs into account.
Doing that is tricky indeed, but the authorities will do their best.
To that end, they’ve put markers on benches and other common hangout areas so seniors can better observe social distancing.
Ms Tan also urged residents to remind their parents to observe the prevailing Covid-19 measures.
That’s especially if they know their elders like to roam around outside and meet up with their friends.
Kudos to Ms Tan for her compassion towards the needs of the elderly people in her estate.
Often, we may not realise that Covid-19 may be harder on our seniors, who may not understand the measures.
If they’re not following rules, we should empathise and approach them with kindness instead of taking photos or reporting them.
Showing some understanding will help us all survive the pandemic together.
Have news you must share? Get in touch with us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Featured image adapted from Shin Min Daily News, Facebook and Facebook.
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