All Ramadan bazaars organised by the People’s Association (PA), including the popular Geylang Serai Ramadan Bazaar, will not be operating this year, due to the current COVID-19 situation as well as the need to maintain social distancing in public areas.
This was said by a PA spokesman on Wednesday (18 March) to The Straits Times. He explained that PA will cancel the other Hari Raya festive bazaars that it usually organises as well.
“For the well-being and safety of our residents, the PA will not be organising festive bazaars and trade fairs with effect from March 18, 2020. This includes the annual Hari Raya Bazaars organised at Wisma Geylang Serai as well as at Our Tampines Hub and in Woodlands,” the spokesman said.
He added, “As the festive bazaars contribute to the festive mood, we understand that some residents may be disappointed. However, as our bazaars attract large crowds, we have taken the difficult decision not to proceed with these activities.”
In the past years, these bazaars, which sell an array of food, festive clothes, and household decorations, are held for a month-long during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, and it attracts massive crowds.
This year’s fasting month starts on the 23 April.
Due to the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in Singapore, and to contain the spreading of the virus among the community, the Government announced on 13 March that all ticketed cultural, sports, and entertainment events with 250 participants or more will postponed or cancelled.
Additionally, it also released an advisory on social distancing in public spaces, and to postpone or cancel all non-essential events and gathering.
In the beginning of March, it was reported that the PA had opened a new tender for this year’s Geylang Serai Ramadan Bazaar, located at the Wisma Geylang Serai social and cultural heritage hub.
This tender, which ended on Monday, attracted bids from Adex Group and Corpbiz Events. However, PA had already opened a tender earlier but it was closed on 17 January without awarding it to anyone, before opening this new tender which ended this week.
As for the latest tender document that was uploaded on government tender portal Gebiz, it included mitigation factors which owners of stalls have to follow to stop the spreading of the deadly coronavirus, including social distancing and cleaning programmes.
Additionally, vendors have to also check the temperature of their workers on a daily basis.
The initial plan was to bring down the number of stalls at the Geylang Serai Ramadan Bazaar from 800 to 50, and grouped them in clusters of four with each stall placed 10m apart.
However, on Wednesday, PA announced the cancellation of the bazaars altogether.
The spokesman added that for trade fairs that are currently ongoing, the operators are keeping in mind additional precautionary measures like temperature recording and offering hand sanitisers.
“For festive bazaars where tenders have been awarded, the organisers will abide by the cancellation clauses and look after the interest of the tenderers,” added the spokesman.
In 2019, nearly two million people visited the bazaar at Wisma Geylang Serai, the highest number recorded for such a bazaar.
The year before only saw 1.8 million attendees.