Our return to coffee shops after the circuit breaker will go down as the second happiest moment in the country’s history, after our independence from the British.
After months of eating lukewarm Prata and melted Ice Kachang, residents were overjoyed to dine at their favourite hawker centres once again.
But then the issue of cleanliness at these food centres cropped up.
Diners were encouraged to clean up after themselves in a bid to prevent transmission of the coronavirus, but some refused to change their ways, and left it to the cleaners.
This, clearly, has to change.
SG Clean Campaign
Back in February, the SG Clean campaign was launched to raise hygiene standards across the country, according to The Straits Times.
One area of concern was community dining places, like coffee shops and hawker centres.
Then Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli urged diners to dispose of their used tissues – which he called “little biohazards” – instead of leaving it in their bowls.
Diners were also encouraged to return their dirty dishes and utensils to tray stations.
However, checks by ST showed that, on average, eight out of 10 diners did not follow the SG Clean guidelines.
Some did try to keep their tables clean, with a few even wiping their tables and utensils down, but others couldn’t be bothered and left it to the cleaners.
The main issue here isn’t indifference, but ignorance; most people simply aren’t aware of the SG Clean guidelines.
So, what are you supposed to do?
Recommendations for Diners
According to ST and SG Clean, diners are urged to:
- consume their food off trays instead of placing their bowls and plates directly on tables
- return used crockery and utensils to tray stations
- use tissues when coughing or sneezing
- dispose of their used tissues and not leave them behind
- keep tables clean
Diners are also reminded to wash their hands frequently and keep bathrooms clean and dry.
In March, the National Environment Agency (NEA) announced that over 2,000 SG Clean ambassadors would be deployed in stages at hawker centres and coffee shops.
Guidelines Might Be Made Mandatory
Remember how residents were ‘encouraged’ to abide by safe-distancing rules at the start of the circuit breaker? They were only issued advisories if they flouted the rules.
This became a problem, as 7,000 advisories were issued on the first day.
The authorities soon realised that they couldn’t trust Singaporeans to follow the rules, and had to enforce them instead.
Subsequently, the number of offenders magically dwindled in the following months.
Similarly, if diners don’t follow the SG Clean guidelines, the government might have to make them mandatory, said Minister Masagos.
“We may even resort to regulations… we have to see how things evolve,” he said in an interview with ST and Lianhe Zaobao.
So, unless you want to be fined for not returning your bowl to the tray station, I’d start doing it right now.