(Originally published on SFA Facebook)
Small actions, big impact
When Clarence first started out as an inspector four years ago, he didn’t think that his role will have such a big impact on public health and hygiene.
“It’s more than just enforcement. One action we take can save or affect many people.
Take today’s COVID-19 situation. The safe distancing measures at F&B establishments may seem trivial or ‘useless’ to some members of the public but little by little, it adds up and can make a huge difference in our fight against COVID-19.
Everyone can do their part in reducing the spread, even while dining out.”
Safeguarding public health
Armed with a minor in public health from NUS, Samantha feels that her role as an inspector is aligned with her interests and what she studied in university.
“When we go out to conduct inspections, we are safeguarding Singapore’s public health.
In these pressing times, it’s even more important that we soldier on and ensure coffee shops and eating houses comply with the safe distancing measures.”
Checking off the list
SFA inspectors have a checklist to adhere to for coffee shops and eating houses to implement safe distancing measures.
These include clearly marking queueing areas and spacing customers out in the queue at a distance of one metre apart, as well as ensuring a distance of at least one metre between tables.
TOOL#1 – iPad
“Our iPad has everything we need to conduct our inspections and engagement. Other than referring to our checklist, we also use it to take photos of best practices and show operators how certain things can or should be done.”- Samantha
While most coffee shop operators are keen to implement the measures, they may not be as prompt in taking action.
“There are different challenges for different coffee shops. Some are smaller in area and mandating a one-metre distance between tables may not be practical. So we advise them to remove some tables in order to meet the requirement.
Then there are coffee shops with very good businesses where customers ignore the queue demarcation lines or their staff do not have time to remind them to queue behind the markers.
So every day, we visit various coffee shops to reiterate the measures. And for those who have yet to fully comply, we check on their progress daily and help them expedite the process.” - Clarence
Passing on the info
Coffee shops and eating houses are also required to train service staff to provide clear communication on safe distancing measures to customers. They can consider putting up signages to educate and encourage customers to observe safe distancing.
“We print the advisories and explain to coffee shop operators and stallholders why we need to implement these measures. If the service staff don’t understand, it’s likely they will not pass down the information to their customers.”
TOOL#2 – Situational awareness
“To facilitate smoother on-the-ground implementation, it’s important to break down the regulation or policy and make it easy for operators and stall holders to understand and apply them.
Our job is to take time to explain to them, understand their concerns and constraints, and guide them to find solutions.” - Clarence
Take time but hey it's necessary
As these safe distancing measures are new, members of the public naturally need some time to get used to them. They may be inconvenient at first, but these measures are required to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
“Some people may need some nudging to practise social responsibility so things such as demarcation lines are necessary to help guide them.
It’s a matter of getting used to.” - Samantha
So far so good
So far, coffee shop operators have been cooperative. This is even though complying with these measures may affect their businesses.
“The COVID-19 situation is not targeted at just coffee shops. Everyone is facing the same issue.
At the end of the day, we drew up these safe distancing measures for the greater good of the community - to provide a safer dining environment for everyone. We hope everyone can play their part and stay united as a nation!” – Samantha
Food for Thought is a digital publication by
© 2020 Singapore Food Agency
Last updated on Tuesday, April 14, 2020