SINGAPORE - Thirty-two diners will be fined $300 each for flouting Covid-19 rules at food and beverage outlets, such as not wearing a mask promptly after eating or drinking, intermingling between tables as well as sitting in groups of more than five diners.
In addition, eight more F&B outlets have been ordered to close and 14 outlets were also fined, said the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment (MSE) on Tuesday (Sept 29).
The ministry warned that the Government will continue to step up enforcement checks at F&B outlets around Singapore “to ensure that they remain safe spaces for all” and reminded diners to be socially responsible.
“Agencies will not hesitate to take enforcement actions against both patrons and premises that do not comply with safe management measures,” MSE said.
This comes after the Government said on Sept 9 that F&B outlets and diners who breach safe management measures will be penalised even for the first offence instead of just receiving a warning.
On that same day, the Urban Redevelopment Authority said that 17 people who did not keep to the rule of a maximum of five people in a group at various F&B outlets were fined, with more being investigated then.
In Tuesday’s update, MSE said that among the eight errant F&B outlets ordered to close are Siam Square Mookata in Punggol Point Road, the Tanjong Pagar branch of Korean fried chicken chain Chicken Up, and Cafe de Muse in Shaw House.
Some common breaches found at the eight outlets included the sale and consumption of alcohol after 10.30pm and diners across multiple tables intermingling with one another and sharing food.
Another 14 outlets were fined for breaching safe management measures, with 13 fined $1,000 and one - a repeat offender - fined $2,000.
Some offences committed by these outlets were admitting and seating groups of more than five together and not ensuring that food handlers wore their masks properly.
The MSE added that government agencies conducted additional inspections on 240 F&B outlets last Friday and Saturday.
Of these, 15 were found to have breached safe management measures.
Agencies are reviewing the breaches and the appropriate enforcement actions to be taken, including temporary closure of the outlets and the issuance of fines.
Despite some diners not masking up after their meal at eateries, a Restaurant Association of Singapore spokesman said most customers do wear masks in restaurants and remove them only when food and drinks are served.
Even for those who forget to put their masks on after their meals, most will mask up when reminded, he said.
But restaurants face challenges in ensuring diners follow safe management measures, especially if they have a shortage of manpower.
“(As) servers are often busy making sure orders are taken and meals are served on time, they may be gaps in time between checks and reminding diners to wear their masks after they complete their meals,” the association spokesman said.
For entrepreneur Chen Jiaxin, 29, seeing diners talking to one another without a mask on after finishing their meals is not uncommon.
“I think people are starting to get complacent now that the community Covid-19 cases are low,” she said. “While we should not let our guard down, I can see why people (don’t mask up right) after their meal because of the discomfort of talking with a mask on.”
F&B OUTLETS ORDERED TO CLOSE
Here are more details on the eight outlets ordered by the authorities to close for flouting Covid-19 rules.
1. Brewerkz in Riverside Point was ordered to close after officers saw a group of eight diners mingling across two tables on Sept 12. It will stay closed for 10 days from last Friday to Oct 4.
2. Siam Square Mookata in Punggol Point Road was also told to shut its doors after patrons at two tables were seen consuming alcohol on Sept 16, at 10.45pm. It closed from Sept 19 until Monday.
3. The operator of a drink stall in the outdoor refreshment area in New Upper Changi Road was ordered to close from Sept 19 until Monday. Individuals at four tables were seen consuming alcohol at 10.50pm.
4. Korean casual dining restaurant Ggang Tong in Tanjong Pagar Road was ordered to close last Friday until Oct 4. This comes after the restaurant admitted 12 diners who were seated across two tables. The patrons sat in groups of six, mingled and shared food across tables.
5. On Sept 18, the Chicken Up outlet in Tanjong Pagar was found to have admitted 10 patrons who sat across two tables and intermingled. The outlet will be closed for 10 days until Oct 5.
6. Another drink stall, at Block 26 Jalan Membina was ordered to close until Oct 2, after a patron consumed alcohol on Sept 19, at 11.20pm.
7. The Jamboree Bar & Cafe at Orchard Towers will remain shut between last Saturday to Oct 5. Last Friday, individuals had intermingled with different groups of diners who were seated across different tables.
8. Groups of individuals were seen queuing at the entrance of Cafe de Muse last Friday without keeping a safe distance of 1m. The cafe will stay closed until Oct 5, after it was observed that temperature screenings for diners were not in place and seats were placed less than 1m apart.