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TraceTogether check-in not required at most stores in malls, but some retailers want it as extra precaution

SINGAPORE — Shoppers doing SafeEntry check-ins this week at stores that are situated within malls have been noticing that they have to do so at some stores but not at others, since the TraceTogether-only check-in system that encompasses SafeEntry started on Monday (May 17) nationwide.

Shoppers have to scan their TraceTogether token or mobile application to do SafeEntry check-ins when entering venues such as malls and public facilities.

Shoppers have to scan their TraceTogether token or mobile application to do SafeEntry check-ins when entering venues such as malls and public facilities.

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  • The TraceTogether-only SafeEntry check-in system for entry into public places officially started on May 17
  • Some stores within malls that do not need to set up this system still require customers to scan their token or app before entry
  • They said it is for more efficient contact tracing and to cover potential lapses
  • Shoppers generally have no issues checking in store after store even though a handful found it a hassle


SINGAPORE — Shoppers doing SafeEntry check-ins this week at stores that are situated within malls have been noticing that they have to do so at some stores but not at others, since the TraceTogether-only check-in system that encompasses SafeEntry started on Monday (May 17) nationwide.

Retailers who are getting customers to check in again at their stores told TODAY that they want an extra layer of tracking as a safeguard. 

The SafeEntry digital contact-tracing tool, which logs visitors' entry into places to facilitate contact tracing, has been used for about a year now as a control measure for the Covid-19 pandemic.

Malls, supermarkets, popular wet markets, hotels, workplaces such as offices and factories, schools and healthcare facilities have been using this to track movement of people.

The TraceTogether system, which is available on a mobile application or a token issued by the Government, has been complementing SafeEntry separately. The TraceTogether app on the mobile phone or the token exchange Bluetooth signals between users to trace how close they are and for how long they are interacting.

The two tools were merged and made compulsory for use this month. The mandatory use was imposed earlier than the original June schedule when community cases started rising lately.

Some stores have removed the QR code for SafeEntry that shoppers used to have to scan with their mobile phone and do not have any SafeEntry check-in system in place, while some are doing TraceTogether-only SafeEntry check-ins.

The first group has done away with check-ins because guidelines by Smart Nation and Digital Government Office (SNDGO) state that at malls, SafeEntry check-ins via TraceTogether are required only in high-risk places where people are likely to be in close contact with one another for long periods of time, such as at gyms and eateries.

Large retail stores and supermarkets situated within a mall can remove SafeEntry check-ins via TraceTogether because patrons would have already done so when entering the mall and the interactions at such venues are “generally more transient”.

Small retail stores such as pharmacies that were not required to have SafeEntry check-in for customers, but have voluntarily done so, should also remove such check-ins to increase convenience for their patrons, SNDGO said.

Most shoppers approached by TODAY said that they were comfortable and felt safe just completing their check-ins at the entrance of malls. 

Student Raashida Elahi, 22, who often shops at Tampines Hub, said: “The mall already has a check-in stop at the entrance and my TraceTogether app is on. So in the event I am exposed to someone with Covid-19, the app will tell me so and I can quarantine myself afterwards or get a swab test if needed.” 

Ms Kavya Theenan, 21, a student who was shopping at Tampines Mall, said: “I don’t really feel unsafe when I enter stores within a mall that do not have TraceTogether SafeEntry check-ins.”

In any case, she said that if a shop does not have a contact-tracing check-in system these days, it is “perceived as something abnormal”.

“I will then check to see if the QR code for TraceTogether-only SafeEntry check-in is placed in a less visible place.” 


However, others felt that shops should continue to have individual check-ins for more robust contact-tracing purposes. 

Ms Christine Chong, 62, a manager in the beauty and wellness business, said: “I don’t think it’s right for stores within malls to remove TraceTogether-only SafeEntry check-ins. If anyone contracts the virus, this check-in system at stores within the malls can easily trace contacts.” 

Some stores that do not require the mandatory TraceTogether-only check-in but have it on a voluntary basis said that they do it because of safety concerns or potential lapses. 

A representative for department store BHG said that based on the guidelines, customers will not be required to check in before entering stores if they enter via entrances within the malls. Customers will only be required to check in should they enter via store entrances that are not entrances to the mall.

However, at BHG, customers have to check in again before entering its store. “The safety of our staff and customers is of utmost importance to us. This would also greatly help with contact-tracing work should the need arise,” the representative said. 

Ms Edna Ng, 49, general manager for All Watches, said that its watch outlets within malls have mandatory SafeEntry check-in using TraceTogether app or token for shoppers who intend to buy watches.

“For customers who are buying watches, they tend to spend a longer time at the store and so, we need them to complete that step for contact-tracing purposes.”

However, customers who “just want to have a look” are not required to scan their app or token. 

Ms Bonnie Wong, 32, chief operating officer of Creative Eateries that have food outlets within malls such as VivoCity and Bugis+, said that entrances to the malls are not manned all the time.

“So there could be instances when someone walks in without doing a check-in. To ensure that there are no lapses in contact tracing, it will be safer for us to ensure all customers perform a TraceTogether-only SafeEntry check-in before entering our premises.” 


When TODAY visited various malls from Monday to Wednesday, some shoppers said that completing multiple check-ins at the mall as well as the shops within the premises can be extra work, but most of them understood that it is a necessary practice for the sake of public health.

Ms Maddy Yap, 25, who is unemployed and was at Tampines Mall, did not find it a hassle since she just has to “tap and go”.

IT analyst Charan Raj, 33, agreed, saying “the app is convenient and useful for contact tracing”. 

Isetan department store in Tampines Mall was one of those that did not have a check-in system.

Ms Clarine Yeo, 47, a housewife who was shopping there said: “It doesn’t really matter because we have already scanned at the entrance of the mall and this app is supposed to trace our location wherever we go inside the mall.”

Ms Cynthia Odilia, 21, a student who often shops in the neighbourhood where she lives, said: “It is quite annoying having to scan the TraceTogether app when going into the mall and one more time to a store you're visiting in the very same mall, but I believe it is for the best in case anyone does get the virus.

“If I don't check in at stores within malls and there is potentially someone who has the virus and I catch it and then I begin spreading it to others, it would be harder to trace back to me.”

When TODAY contacted Isetan, it could not comment by the time of publication. 

At Nex mall, it has disseminated a circular to all tenants on May 15 to update them on the new measures, including contact-tracing requirements for retail, lifestyle and F&B establishments. Its spokesperson said that tenants are adjusting their operations to ensure that they are implemented. 

Tampines Mall also said that its retailers have been advised to follow the guidelines by trade agency Enterprise Singapore on the use of TraceTogether. 

NTUC Club, which oversees the Downtown East entertainment and leisure hub in Pasir Ris, said that the venue adheres to the Government’s stipulated measures. Only premises within Downtown East that experience a higher flow of visitors and where people are likely to be in close proximity for prolonged periods will still require SafeEntry check-ins.

Since the Government’s announcement on the new requirement of using the TraceTogether app or token for SafeEntry, Downtown East has disseminated the information to tenants and engaged them on the ground, NTUC Club said.

“We will continue to work with them to ensure that they are kept up to date with the latest safe management measures.”

In a news release in April, SNDGO said that from June 15, venues where people are within close proximity to one another for long periods of time such as at fitness centres, hotels and dine-in outlets must set up the SafeEntry Gateway scanner to facilitate SafeEntry check-ins and help users check if their TraceTogether tokens or app are in working condition. These venues would be provided with free scanners. 

However, the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (Asme) told The Straits Times in a report on May 16 that about 80 per cent of the 80 firms in contact with the association were well-equipped for TraceTogether-only SafeEntry check-ins.

The rest, which form about 8,000 small- and medium-sized firms, were not ready or in the process of getting ready for the TraceTogether-only check-in system.

Venue operators may get more information on how to apply to get the scanners at

Related topics

TraceTogether SafeEntry retail malls Covid-19 contact tracing

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