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Covid-19 vaccination status checks begin at Singapore libraries


SINGAPORE - Queues formed outside libraries on Wednesday (Dec 1) - the first day that vaccination-differentiated safe management measures kicked in at these locations.

When The Straits Times visited Bishan Public Library at 10am, a counter had been set up at the entrance for staff to check the inoculation status of patrons.

A queue of 20 visitors had formed, with most in line having already scanned the QR codes outside the library.

This meant that once the library opened at 10am, they were able to present their SafeEntry green passes to staff showing that they are fully vaccinated or have a cleared Covid-19 test status.

On Nov 20, a multi-ministry task force on Covid-19 announced the expansion of vaccination-differentiated safe management measures to more venues to reduce the risk of transmission of the virus.

Only fully inoculated individuals, recovered Covid-19 patients, those who are medically ineligible or children aged 12 and below are allowed in settings where such measures apply.

In response to queries from ST, the National Library Board (NLB) said: “We do not require that (these children) be accompanied by an adult, but encourage parents to ensure that their children comply with all safe management measures.”

One of the first patrons in line at the Bishan library was a housewife, who wanted to be known only as Mrs Chan, and her 11-year-old daughter Binnie.

When asked about the new rules and how they affect her child who is unable to be vaccinated as she is below 12, Mrs Chan said: "I usually do a group check-in for my daughter. I'm not sure if they will have further checks at the library but we've brought along her ez-link card just in case."

The card indicates her year of birth.

Binnie, a Primary 5 pupil at Kuo Chuan Presbyterian Primary School, has been visiting the library with her mother three to four times a week since she was a two-year-old.

Mrs Chan said: "The school holidays started last week. With Covid-19, we've been staying home most of the time so it's good she can go to the library and read."

Retired tech consultant Chua Ming Soo, 77, said he feels reassured by the roll-out of the new measures.

Mr Chua, who was reading Chinese-language papers at the multimedia station at the Toa Payoh Public Library, said: “At a library, people touch everything, from the lift buttons to the newspapers. Now there is Omicron, it’s even more dangerous. Nobody knows how severe the symptoms (for the new variant) are.”

When ST visited Sengkang Public Library at 11am, patrons similarly waited in line to enter. Student Roanne Pong, 13, who is fully vaccinated, said: “I think the measures are okay as long as they keep infections low and save lives.”

For the month of December, unvaccinated individuals will still be able to visit libraries but need to show a negative pre-event test result. But from Jan 1, this will cease.

This means that those who are unvaccinated can borrow books only by making a reservation and collecting their items at standalone and regional libraries.

The NLB said last week that the bookdrops and reservation lockers are located outside the libraries and are accessible without entry.

The need for a safe outlet for the public to stay active and renew social bonds has also seen the People’s Association (PA) pilot the resumption of selected classes and activities for fully vaccinated seniors aged 60 and above, since Nov 1.

The task force on Nov 20 said: “Drawing on lessons from these pilots, we will resume more of such activities in a safe manner in the coming weeks.”

These activities will likely include active ageing programmes by the Health Promotion Board and National Silver Academy.

The PA has also implemented vaccination-differentiated measures for bookings of facilities in community clubs/centres from Nov 22.

But unvaccinated residents can still access transient services such as financial aid at its community clubs and centres, PA told ST.

Madam Lim Swee Khim, 54, said she felt safer with the measures.

The IT professional said: “Personally, I’m not that affected... since I’m fully vaccinated. However, I do feel safer if everyone is fully vaccinated in an indoor space since there’s a lower chance of people being infected.”

By Jessie Lim and Gena Soh

Published : December 02, 2021

By : The Straits Times