I have been at The Pride since April, with my first few weeks being online. When it was announced that work-from-home was no longer the default work mode, I was fortunate enough to start working at our Stamford Court office. For a month, I got to talk to colleagues and get a feel of what it was like working in the office.
But on 14 May, Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) was announced, and just like that, my office experience was put on hold.
I was disappointed that we had to go back to WFH, and there were a flurry of other reactions. Some expressed their anger towards the handling of the sudden increase in Covid-19 cases. Others were worried that we would be returning to a circuit breaker and started panic buying at supermarkets.
Even before the heightened alert was announced, there was already some nastiness going around. A man was arrested for attacking a 55-year-old woman while allegedly shouting racial slurs at her; another woman who refused to wear her mask in public is also being investigated.
Then there are those who have suffered directly from the increased restrictions during the heightened alert. On the global scale, the Shangri-La Dialogue was cancelled and in the arts scene, this year’s Singapore International Festival of the Arts had to quickly scale down performances, with tickets being cancelled and shows forced to move shows.
Add that to not being able to dine out, and fears of another circuit breaker, and there is a general air of gloom settling on Singapore.
But in the midst of it, there are still many stories of Singaporeans supporting each other and if we choose to focus on kindness, I believe that we can all help to end this heightened alert period sooner rather than later. Here are five ways to do it:
Having to dabao or order-in food is a hassle for us but imagine what it is like for those in the F&B industry?
While some eateries are available on delivery apps such as Grab, Deliveroo and foodpanda, some are not as fortunate. Many hawkers, particularly those from the older generation, are not familiar with technology and find it difficult to move their business online.
Recently, 8 Days shared the difficulties of elderly hawkers in the pandemic, particularly those who are illiterate. The article mentioned Ah Tee Ko Ko Mee stall at Jalan Berseh, whose 73-year-old owner Sim Ah Tee feared that he would have to close down due to the decline in sales. His son Calvin helped him post about his stall on Facebook but said that his father wasn’t tech-savvy enough to handle cooking and taking orders online.
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Another hawker, Lee Ah Meng, 78, who makes handmade kuehs, has been deterred from online deliveries, worried about not having enough for his regular customers.
The 8 Days article, which shed light on the difficulty of being a hawker, motivated many Singaporeans to support them.
Ah Meng, who had originally reported a slowdown in sales during Phase 2, now says that he has had more attention from the public since the 8 Days article was posted. He used to end his day at 4pm but now he runs out of stock by lunchtime, similar to what he used to do before Covid.
Other hawkers have also gone on Facebook and Instagram to publicise their stalls. Look out for our story tomorrow on how an Instagram account set up by three sisters to help hawkers stay in business went viral.
And Singaporeans seem to be responding. TODAY reported an increase in the number of customers queuing up, some even for up to two hours, at certain popular hawker stalls. Even NEA has released a statement applauding the orderly queues for dabao.
You don’t have to join the popular queues though, just head to your local kopitiam (with your own container!) to support your neighbourhood uncle and auntie hawkers.
Understanding delivery riders
It’s not just hawkers who are affected by the no dining-in rule, delivery riders also have more concerns about their safety during this period.
Most Singaporeans back at home, working or attending lessons, coupled with no eating out, means an increase in food deliveries. But while we are waiting for our orders, I hope that we will be more like Reddit user GuivenanciaYong, who encouraged their delivery rider to stay safe.
It may be a break for us, but lunch and dinner are the busiest times for eateries and those who deliver the food. Eateries need time to complete orders and delivery riders have to battle weather and traffic to get to you.
Do be patient for their safety and well-being. Don’t do this. It’s not a game for them, it’s their livelihood.
And it’s not just food delivery riders; it applies to all delivery people as well. The Pride recently spoke with the widow of a delivery driver who died on the job and she reminded us of just how much stress they go through on a daily basis. Let’s show them some kindness, please.
While many of us are home, these frontline heroes are outside serving numerous customers. Let’s do our part to ensure their safety by continuing with contactless deliveries; and give them a tip to encourage them if you think they’ve done a good job!
Appreciating bus drivers
Another group that has been working tirelessly and thanklessly during these heightened measures are our public transport workers.
They, like delivery drivers, are essential workers, helping us on our daily commutes and in turn are exposed to a higher chance of getting the virus.
Their efforts have not gone totally unnoticed, however.
Our appreciation for these frontline workers however, do not necessarily have to be so dramatic. Sometimes, a simple thank-you note or even a cheerful hello or wave when you board the bus is enough to make their day.
Volunteering to help others
Going to a supermarket during Covid-19 has become more tiresome. There are restrictions, Trace Together protocols and last year, before the circuit breaker started, there was the panic buying when we went into Dorscon Orange.
But when the heightened alert was announced, reddit user Familiar-Mouse4490, was more concerned about others, posing the question: “Are there any grocery shopping services for the immunocompromised I can volunteer for?”
What impressed me the most was the enthusiasm of these Reddit users. So many users responded with similar offers to help that Familiar-Mouse4490 started a group on Signal to discuss a plan of action – either to join an organisation or create their own initiative.
This is how ground-up movements are started. If you’re looking for other online channels to check out to see if you can help during this time, here’s a useful link.
Contributing to charity bake sale
During this heightened alert period, we can’t dine out but we can still celebrate birthdays, anniversaries or special occasions with your family and loved ones. So why not make a difference while celebrating?
SPD, which works with adults, youth and children with disabilities, has partnered 18 home bakers for a charity bake sale that will be running until 14 June.
You can choose from floral jellycakes to treats inspired by local favourites like nasi lemak and “lapsap Milo” cookies to ondeh ondeh cupcakes and more.
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The home bakers have pledged 20% of all proceeds to be donated and the bake sale is also helping to raise awareness of people with disabilities. All orders come with a free simplified communication board used by people with speech impairment and a video of SPD beneficiaries.
Even if you don’t have a sweet tooth, you can donate here to help SPD on its charity drive!
Kindness starts with us
These are just a few examples of how Singaporeans have shown kindness to one another since we went into heightened alert.
I know that many of us are disappointed with the return of these stricter measures. We’ve had to put our plans on hold and after the optimism of the first few months of 2021, it’s a bummer to think we’re not out of the Covid-19 woods yet.
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However, I believe that these examples can help encourage us to see how Singaporeans are handling the crisis – together.
Let’s continue to work to help more businesses afloat, keep one another safe and support those in the frontline.
Instead of choosing to be angry, choose to be kind instead. Yes, we’re mostly stuck at home, but let’s support each other whenever and however we can to make this period of heightened alert become just another step towards beating this pandemic for good.