About 3,000 Enforcement Officers, and SG Clean and Safe Distancing Ambassadors have been walking the ground every day since April 2020. They keep people in Singapore safe by making sure that those outside of their homes wear their masks properly, and keep a safe distance from one another.
The Ambassadors comprise officers from 65 public agencies as well as those from private sectors whose usual jobs have been disrupted by COVID-19, like cabin crew and tour guides, and volunteers.
Even though the Circuit Breaker period is over, they will still be doing their jobs in Phases One and Two as Singapore adopts a phased approach to resume activities gradually and safely.
Here are some of their stories.
Sharon Loh, 37, Jetstar Asia air stewardess
Area: F&B Outlets
"I am a Safe Distancing Ambassador who covers mainly F&B outlets like cafes, restaurants, coffeeshops in the central area including Bugis, Tiong Bahru, Telok Ayer, Lau Pa Sat and Marina Boulevard.
Our focus is not only the people who are coming in for takeaways, but the F&B operators, including kitchens and counter staff. We want to make sure that they are wearing masks at all times and are observing safe distancing.
For the kitchens, we go on “surprise” visits where we walk in and say “Excuse me, can I check your kitchen?” Those in the kitchens sometimes do not cover their mouths and noses properly because they are not seen.
I understand it’s hot. But when we explain to them that it’s a precaution to prevent virus transmission as they cannot avoid contact with fellow workers completely, and that the last thing they want is for a new COVID-19 cluster to form in their establishment, they comply.
What I am doing now is similar to what I was doing as a Jetstar Asia cabin crew for 13 years – I told people how to stay safe too, like putting on their safety belts or stowing their luggage safely. It’s just that now I share safety messages while on the ground.
I became a Safe Distancing Ambassador after the company temporarily suspended its operations in March 2020, which left me and my colleagues feeling unsettled. Thankfully, Jetstar Asia helped many of us to secure temporary jobs to tide over this period.
Many of my cabin crew colleagues are stationed at other frontline spots including temperature screening at hospitals, contact tracing centres, and foreign worker dormitories.
My training means I am not afraid to approach strangers from all walks of life, address them appropriately, and politely remind them about the guidelines. I am never fierce, and everyone has been cooperative.
In fact, many of the F&B operators are thankful that we went down personally to guide them. They admire our courage in being out and about on the frontline!
I have also gained friends, as I become familiar with the F&B operators whom I see often. I have learnt much more about delicious food in the areas I have been patrolling, which I never knew about.
Since I started this role in March, I also find that people have become used to safe distancing, and are automatically doing it on their own without my having to say anything. It has become part and parcel of daily life."
Amanda Ng, 26, manager working in the Conservation division at NParks
"I patrol Bukit Batok Nature Park and Bukit Batok Town Park to ensure that people wear their masks, comply with safe distancing measures, and are not exercising in groups or with people from different households.
I also help with drone operations, which are used to monitor visitorship levels in parks and other green areas managed by NParks.
I fly drones in the larger parks and nature reserves to take photos of the grounds. The parks I fly the drones in include Bukit Batok Nature Park, Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and Zhenghua Nature Park.
Doing so provides us with a high vantage point to obtain visitorship numbers in these locations, which is used to update the Safe Distance @ Park portal (safedistparks.nparks.gov.sg), which the public can use to look for a park near their homes that is less crowded before leaving their house to exercise.
Before the Circuit Breaker period, I usually only saw regulars with a few new faces. Now, we see a lot more people who are new to the parks. The demographic of our park users is also a lot more diverse, from mainly elderly people in the past to more youths now.
The most memorable moment for me was when we chanced upon a homeless uncle sitting on a rock at the Bukit Batok Town Park, who had been sleeping rough.
We helped him by giving him masks so he would not have to re-wear his old one, chatted with him and got in touch with a social worker who managed to find him temporary shelter.
Last I heard, he is adjusting well.
The most difficult part of the job is explaining to park users why certain measures are in place. Some park users would try to argue their way out or feign ignorance.
We have to patiently explain to them that the measures are in place for their own health and safety, as well as that of others.
My colleagues and I are happy to play our part so that the public could come to our parks to stretch their legs and get some fresh air and exercise, especially during the Circuit Breaker period."
Ow Tai Wee, 40, Banquet Manager
Area: Hawker Centres
"Since I started on 24 April 2020, I have been assigned to various hawker centres in the East, such as the Bedok Food Centre, East Coast Lagoon Food Village and Block 58 New Upper Changi Road.
I am an SG Clean Ambassador deployed to help with safe distancing work. I work between 12pm and 9pm with an hour’s break in between.
I remind stallholders and patrons, who comprise young adults, the elderly and families, to wear their masks correctly, and for patrons to maintain a safe distance of 1m apart, especially during the peak hours.
The job can get quite challenging especially during the peak hours of 3 - 6pm when long queues can form within minutes.
It is also difficult for patrons to maintain a safe distance of 1m when queuing within the confined space of a hawker centre.
To overcome this, our team members taped additional floor markings with visible arrow signs to guide patrons on how they should queue.
When I was working as a banquet manager, I spent most of my time in the hotel and was not subject to the weather. Hence, my first day as a SG Clean Ambassador was quite memorable. It was raining heavily. As I was outdoors, my feet got wet. Since then, I always have an extra pair of socks with me.
Thankfully, most members of the public are quite supportive and cooperative when approached by us to practise safe distancing and I look forward to going to work every day.
At times, when members of the public encourage or thank me for my contribution, I feel happy that my efforts are recognised. I also feel a sense of fulfilment as I played my part to help make the Circuit Breaker measures a success."