In Singapore, slow business at Bukit Timah Shopping Centre after suspected Omicron cluster detected at the mall

A branch of Anytime Fitness gym located in Bukit Timah Shopping Centre was closed for deep cleaning after three people suspected to have the Omicron coronavirus strain had visited the place. ― TODAY pic
A branch of Anytime Fitness gym located in Bukit Timah Shopping Centre was closed for deep cleaning after three people suspected to have the Omicron coronavirus strain had visited the place. ― TODAY pic

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SINGAPORE, Dec 22 — Retailers at Bukit Timah Shopping Centre reported slower business yesterday (December 21), the day after the Ministry of Health (MoH) identified a suspected cluster of the Omicron coronavirus variant at an Anytime Fitness gym located at the mall.

Food-and-beverage establishments in the building approached by TODAY said that the number of customers had dropped by at least 50 per cent.

The gym was closed for deep cleaning in the meantime. It put up an Instagram post yesterday evening announcing that it will be closed until 12pm on December 26.

In a news release late on Monday night, MoH said that it had detected a suspected Omicron cluster linked to the gym at the shopping centre.

Of the three cases identified there, two of them were found to have the virus strain in early tests, while the test result of the third case is pending.

When TODAY visited Jew Kit Hainanese Chicken Rice outlet at about 2pm yesterday, most of the tables were empty.

Amber Chew, a 26-year-old service staff member at the eatery, said that tables are usually filled with customers during lunchtime, but that business slumped by 50 per cent yesterday.

May Poh, who owns a fruit stall called Starz Juice in the mall, said that business has dropped by 70 per cent.

“We thought that everybody will be adjusted to the new norm. Obviously, not,” the 44-year-old said, adding that she hopes things will improve after a week.

Another food outlet, The Summer Acai, had 50 per cent fewer walk-in customers, its 25-year-old managing director Edwin Hoo said.

Although he is concerned, Hoo said that Singapore has been through worse, clocking more than 3,000 Covid-19 cases a day at one point and that this current downturn in business should likely be temporary.

“Eventually, I think it will be like the norm. I think it's just everybody has this initial 'shocker' phase,” he added.

Some shopkeepers in the mall said that patronage had been poor throughout the pandemic and that news of the Omicron cluster had not made things worse.

Regina Heow, a 65-year-old owner of a florist shop, said that she was not surprised at all when she saw the news because she felt it was a matter of time before the new variant would spread.

Business has dropped by 60 per cent for the shop since the start of the pandemic and things have not been improving.

“Before the news (of the Omicron cluster), we already don't have business. There is no difference from yesterday,” Heow said.

“We are numbed. We are used to this.” ― TODAY

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