18 June 2020

Safer Dining with Table-top Separators: Another Stay Prepared pilot for a Safer Community

Temasek Foundation is partnering CapitaLand and the National Transport Workers Union (NTWU) to install and pilot table-top separators in selected Kopitiam and Food Junction food courts, and staff canteens for frontline transport workers.

Temasek Foundation will fund transparent table-top separators for over 500 dining tables in participating outlets. Each table-top separator will also be treated with a self-disinfecting antimicrobial coating that lasts for three months.

The roll-out starts today across four canteens serving transport workers and will continue over the next week in food courts operated by Kopitiam and Food Junction. Different designs will be implemented for the F&B operators to assess which configurations work best for their respective settings, and for diners to provide their feedback.

Temasek Foundation will also be working with local coffee chain, Ya Kun, to explore how table-top separators can work in small cafes. This is intended to pilot safer hangouts for friends and family, be it for our daily kopi fix or lunch time economy rice.

Likewise, Temasek Foundation has also shared different safe dining design and usage considerations with various interested providers of such transparent table-top separators.

As Singapore enters Phase 2 post Circuit Breaker, up to five friends and families can dine again at eateries and restaurants with safety precautions in place. These table-top separators can be a welcome option to reduce the exchange of speech droplets during meals, and provide a safer and friendlier environment for family and friends to socialise when they remove their masks for their meals.

“Everyone enjoys eating out with friends and families. Our hawker, coffee shop and F&B outlets are very much part of our food culture. They are very much part of our retail economy. We certainly welcome and support more of such pilots by various F&B players to enhance the safety of their diners and their staff. These safety measures would provide more assurance for everybody as we resume dine-in and other operations across the economy. They can also help improve lives and livelihoods, particularly among the SMEs,” said Mr Ng Boon Heong, Chief Executive Officer of Temasek Foundation.

Mr Chris Chong, Managing Director, Retail, CapitaLand Singapore added, “Entering Phase 2, our priority is to make the shopping experience safe and convenient. To this end, we have rolled out digital solutions such as an e-queue management system and pre-ordering through our online platforms eCapitaMall and Capita3Eats. Partnering with Temasek Foundation and our food court operators to install table-top separators is yet another example of our continual efforts to enhance the safety and customer experience in our malls.”

Mr Ng further explained the philosophy of the various Stay Prepared initiatives by Temasek Foundation, “One important mental model is to think of the role of asymptomatic transmission in this pandemic as we open up further. Here, we are paying special attention to the nodes where human interactions are high. The dining scene is one such node. Serving staff will have “many-to-one, one-to-many” touch points, while diners socialising together will have “many-to-many” contact networks. If we can keep the folks in these nodes safe, we are both protecting them from being infected by unknown asymptomatic contacts, and from infecting others as potentially asymptomatic carriers. Hence, makan places are one of the focus areas for us to explore and pilot safe solutions.”

As part of its COVID-19 response under its Stay Prepared initiative, Temasek Foundation has been supporting, piloting or studying safer solutions for various stakeholders, based on the precautionary principle. If an easily accessible and affordable solution can be found, which can potentially prevent COVID-19 transmission, or reduce infection severity, the Foundation will either pilot trials, or support research, with interested partners.

Take a DIY mask for instance. A 50% effective mask is not the perfect solution for an individual in a high risk encounter, such as during an aerosolising procedure with a COVID-19 patient. However, a 50% effective mask used widely by the entire population may potentially and effectively cool off pandemic transmission or reproduction rate to below 1. This benefits everybody as an additional firebreak, to add to other precautions like regular cleaning of hands, safe distancing, and other anti-COVID-19 measures. Such firebreaks help to enhance the safety of our population and hasten the reduction of infectious transmission.

The transparent table-top separators is yet another COVID-19 firebreak, to complement an earlier exercise which Temasek Foundation initiated in conjunction with the Restaurant Association of Singapore to provide more than 100,000 face shields to frontline staff, chefs and food preparers.