If you’re hoping to get your fix of trendy foods and traditional Malay food at the Ramadan bazaar this year, you’ll be disappointed to know that the iconic Geylang Serai Ramadan Bazaar, which the People’s Association (PA) organises, will not be returning this year, in the light of the coronavirus situation and the need to practise social distancing in public venues.

In response to queries from The Straits Times, a PA spokesman said on Wednesday (March 18) that it is also cancelling the other Hari Raya festive bazaars it usually organises.

“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,” said the spokesman.

“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.”

The month-long festive bazaars held during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan across the island attract large crowds.

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The bazaars are known for the wide variety of food sold, festive clothes and household decorations.

In response to the growing number of Covid-19 cases here, and to prevent community spread, the Government on March 13 had announced that all ticketed cultural, sports and entertainment events with 250 participants or more were to be deferred or cancelled.

It also issued an advisory on social distancing in public venues, and to defer or cancel all non-essential events and gatherings.

Earlier this month, it was reported that the PA had opened a new tender for this year’s Geylang Serai Ramadan Bazaar at the Wisma Geylang Serai social and cultural heritage hub.

This tender, which closed on Monday, attracted bids by Adex Group and separately, Corpbiz Events.

PA had opened a tender earlier but this was closed on Jan 17 without the tender being awarded.

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The latest tender document uploaded on government tender portal Gebiz included mitigating factors in which stall owners were required to take to curb the spread of the coronavirus, including social distancing and cleaning programmes.

Vendors were also required to check the temperature of their workers every day.

The plan was to reduce the number of stalls at the Geylang Serai Ramadan Bazaar from 800 to 50, and grouped in clusters of four with each stall set 10m apart.

But on Wednesday PA announced the cancellations.

The spokesman said that for trade fairs that are ongoing, the operators have put in additional precautionary measures such as temperature taking and providing 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.

Last year, about two million people attended the bazaar at Wisma Geylang Serai – the highest ever number recorded for such a bazaar.

It surpassed the 1.8 million visitors the year before.

The bazaar encompassed the field behind Wisma Geylang Serai, the Tanjong Katong Complex and Haig Road area and the areas around Joo Chiat Complex and Geylang Serai market.

Image: ST Photo / Kelvin Chng, ST File
Text: Hariz Baharudin / The Straits Times / March 2020

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