Severe overcrowding led to safety concerns at Blu Jaz: Police

Blu Jaz Cafe accumulated 24 demerit points within a 24-month period, which led to the police issuing a cancellation order of its licence on Oct 8, 2018.
Blu Jaz Cafe accumulated 24 demerit points within a 24-month period, which led to the police issuing a cancellation order of its licence on Oct 8, 2018.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Blu Jaz Cafe had "repeatedly flouted licensing conditions" under the Public Entertainment Act on various occasions putting patrons and staff at risk, said the police in a statement on Friday afternoon (Oct 19).

Instances of "severe overcrowding" at the live-music venue in Bali Lane were the two most recent breaches that led to the popular live music venue getting its public entertainment licence cancelled.

It accumulated 24 demerit points within a 24-month period, which led to the police issuing a cancellation order of its licence on Oct 8.

This means that Blu Jaz can still operate as a cafe but no longer hold live music performances from Oct 22.

Since news broke about the cancellation of its public entertainment licence, home-grown musicians and performers have rallied around the venue.

Jazz singer Joanna Dong for example, took to Facebook to say that Blu Jaz losing its entertainment licence "will undoubtedly stunt the growth of local music".

The police in explaining their decision for revoking the licence gave examples of how Blu Jaz had flouted regulations.

 
 

On April 28, the police found that there were more than 150 people on the second floor of the three-storey venue, even though the venue has a maximum approved occupancy load of 30 persons on that floor.

Blu Jaz was informed of the infringement but when a check was done the following week, there were close to 200 people on the second floor, said the police.

"Such severe overcrowding poses very serious safety risks to patrons and staff, especially in the event of a fire. If there is a need to evacuate, it may result in a stampede."

"The fact that the overcrowding occurred on the upper level significantly compounded the danger to everyone in the premises. It was very irresponsible of the management of the cafe to have allowed those situations to occur, putting so many lives at risk," said the police.

It was even more worrying, said the police, that despite being informed of the breach the management did not put in any mitigating measures and instead allowed severe overcrowding to happen the following week, this time "by an even greater degree".

The police added that they had received the appeal and that it is being reviewed by the independent Public Entertainment Appeal Board, which comprises members from the private and public sectors.

Blu Jaz has played host to everything from jazz bands to hip-hop DJs to spoken word and comedy performances and is a stalwart of the Kampong Glam area, having been around for 13 years.

It set up a petition (www.gopetition.com/petitions/let-the-music-live-on-at-blu-jaz.html) to garner support for an appeal to the Public Entertainment Appeal Board. As of Friday at 4pm, the petition had over 4,400 signatures.