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Queues form early for free masks on morning of Temasek Foundation’s fifth distribution exercise

SINGAPORE (The Straits Times/ANN) -- People began queueing for free masks early on Thursday morning (August 26) as Temasek Foundation kicked off its fifth Stay Prepared initiative.
Each household can collect 50 medical-grade surgical masks and 25 N95 respirator masks at selected malls and supermarket outlets islandwide from Thursday to September 26.

People collect masks at NTUC Xtra at Hougang 1 on August 26, 2021. --Photo Ong Wee Jin

The exercise was announced earlier this month and initially scheduled to start after National Day. However, it was pushed back to August 26 to give participating organisations more time to test the distribution system.
On Thursday morning, over at Lot One shopping mall in Choa Chu Kang, signs were placed in the mall to direct people to a collection point at the customer service counter on the second floor.
Some people began queueing for the masks before 10am, and mall staff could be seen directing the early birds to come back later, or to scan a QR code and join a virtual queue.
One such early bird was retired typist Madam Tan, who arrived at the mall around 9.30am.
“I came because I thought people may be kiasu, I was worried people would come and queue early,” said the retired typist, who declined to give her full name.
She said that when she had previously tried to collect free Vitamin D supplements during Temasek Foundation’s distribution exercise in March this year, supplies had run out by the second day, so she thought it best to arrive early for this month’s mask distribution exercise.
Other seniors in the queue could be seen telling one another about their experiences with previous distribution exercises and why they were staying to wait.
Retired seamstress Chong Fong Xing, 71, said she felt the distribution exercise was a convenient way for people to get their masks.
“The staff told us to go home and come back later, but it’s troublesome, so we might as well stay here,” she said, adding that she was happy to wait.
Meanwhile at Junction 8 mall in Bishan, the situation was less organised. Checks by The Straits Times found only one generic banner placed along the main walkway, with no clear instructions on where people should go to pick up the masks.
Most of those in line were seniors, some of whom were unhappy about having to wait to collect their masks.
Retiree Mr Low, 68, said he felt that communication about where to collect the masks had been poor. He added that staff should have been more flexible about allowing people to collect the masks before the 11am collection time.

(Latest Update August 27, 2021)

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