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Seah Kian Peng: Important to be mindful of those who are vulnerable when they shop for daily essentials

By March 24, 2020Current

TL;DR – NTUC FairPrice’s Priority Shopping Hours, an initiative to make shopping for daily essentials safer for the vulnerable ones in our midst.

A heartbreaking photo of an elderly man surrounded by emptied shelves in a supermarket in Surrey, UK, went viral a few days ago. The original photo was uploaded on Instagram to over 250,000 likes now. Many publications in the UK carried the news.

In Australia, there’s a similar photo tweeted by a journalist, this time of an elderly lady from Port Melbourne, Australia. She was reportedly to be in tears as she failed to buy any groceries amidst panic buying.

I’ve also read stories of how some older folks in the US are afraid to step into supermarkets to get their grocery-shopping done for fear of catching the virus. They’ve read or learnt about how elderly people with pre-existing medical conditions are at higher risk of getting infected by Covid-19.

This particular elderly couple sat in their car for 45 minutes before they managed to find someone to help them with the groceries.

I haven’t yet heard of such stories here in Singapore yet, and I hope we won’t.

Still, it’s super nice to hear that one of NTUC’s social enterprises, NTUC FairPrice, has launched its Priority Shopping Hour trial for the vulnerable amongst us in view of the escalating Covid-19 situation.

What is the FairPrice Priority Shopping Hour?

  • An initiative to improve safe distancing measures for vulnerable segments of the community – including members of the Pioneer Generation (PG), persons with disabilities (PWDs) and pregnant women – when they shop for their daily necessities.
  • The Priority Shopping Hour happens every Monday morning, during the first hour of each FairPrice store’s normal operating hours. For stores that operate 24 hours, the dedicated hour will be from 7am to 8am.
  • It will take effect from next Monday, 30 March.

PG members need only to flash their PG Cards to enter the stores. And yes, PG members also enjoy additional discounts from the existing PG Discount Scheme when they shop on Mondays and Wednesdays. As a side note, FairPrice gave out $4.26 million in savings through the PG Discount Scheme in 2019.

As for pregnant women and PWDs, they just have to inform staff manning the entrance of the store of their condition to enter the stores.

Mr Seah Kian Peng, Group CEO, FairPrice Group, said,

“As we continue to step up precautionary measures to adapt to the evolving Covid-19 situation, it is important to be mindful of those who are vulnerable when they shop for their daily essentials at our stores. The dedicated shopping hour for our PG members help safeguard their well-being and provide them with more time and space. We will proactively introduce and review initiatives to better serve the needs of shoppers and protect the interest of the community during this challenging climate. We appreciate the understanding and support from all our customers.”

Precautionary Measures to Enhance Safety at Stores

Taking reference from Ministry of Health (MOH)’s and Enterprise Singapore’s safe distancing and safety guidelines, FairPrice has in place various precautionary measures to maintain a safe and clean environment for its shoppers and staff.

These measures include encouraging customers to maintain social distancing such as floor markings at checkout queues, in-store posters and announcements. All food sampling will also ceased until further notice.

Cleaning regimes have also been stepped up, especially for high touch surfaces like railings, trolleys, baskets, checkout counters. All staff and suppliers will also have their temperature taken at least twice a day and hand sanitisers have been made available for customers to use.

So now, go tell your grandpa, grandma, father, mother, aunty and uncle about it!

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Maggie O

Author Maggie O

Digital extrovert. Social introvert (warning: 93% introverted!) In the day, I work to put cai-png on the table and ice-cream in the fridge. In the night, I read a lot and write a little. Also, all views expressed in my contribution pieces here are based on my personal opinions, and they do not reflect the ideas, ideologies, or points of view of my employer (past, current and future).

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