Clarke Quay restaurants not hit by news of many people flouting pandemic rules in New Year's Eve gathering

People dining outside a restaurant in Clarke Quay on Jan 8, 2022. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI
People dining outside a bar in Clarke Quay on Jan 8, 2022.

People dining outside a bar in Clarke Quay on Jan 8, 2022. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - The big gathering of revellers in Clarke Quay on New Year's Eve - which has been described as a possible Covid-19 superspreading event - has not frightened away patrons from dining there.

Last week, videos of the gathering, believed to have involved hundreds of people, were posted on social media. Many had masks pulled down, and they could be seen celebrating in front of Riverside Point.

The multi-ministry task force tackling Covid-19 here said on Jan 2 that the gathering involved some blatant breaches of safe management rules and is a potential superspreading event.

Enforcement agencies are looking into the matter, it added.

Contacted on Sunday (Jan 9) for an update on  investigations, all the Urban Redevelopment Authority would say was that its update last week still stands, which is that it will alert The Straits Times if it has any statement to issue.

When ST visited Clarke Quay and Riverside Point last Friday and Saturday, restaurant staff - most of whom declined to be named or asked for their workplaces not to be named - said the news had not dampened business over the past week.

An employee at Brewerkz said it was equally busy during the first week of January as during the festive period in December.

"I think people know the New Year's Eve gathering was an anomaly, so they are still very open to dining out. Some people are also trying adapt to the fact that we have to live with Covid-19," she said, adding that she is optimistic about business this year.

A worker at Mexican restaurant Cafe Iguana said business was unaffected, while a manager of another restaurant noted increased footfall during the first week of January.

"Business has actually been better, probably because more people are returning to the office this year so more of them drop by after work. I don't really think that people are concerned about the gathering on New Year's Eve, as it was just a one-off event," he said.

A staff member at a bar told ST that his patrons were not put off by the gathering, and he hopes that the Chinese New Year period next month will provide a festive business lift.

He added: "I hope such a gathering does not happen again because our industry has already been badly affected by Covid-19. We cannot afford another blow."

While most visitors ST spoke to were unperturbed by the New Year's Eve revelry, some were concerned about such crowds forming in Clarke Quay again.

People dining in Brewerkz at Riverside Point on Jan 8, 2022. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Student Veronica Burns, 17, said: "It was worrying to see the videos showing the huge crowd that night. So when my friends decided to meet at Clarke Quay today, I was hesitant.

"I actually planned to head home if I saw such crowds form again. But thankfully, there were no such gatherings, so I stayed for dinner."

ST saw two safe distancing ambassadors in Clarke Quay last Friday night, but none the following night.

Another student, 17-year-old Catherine Ohlsen, said she frequents the dining spots in Clarke Quay and has never seen such a large gathering in the area.

"While it was irresponsible of them to do that, I'm not going to halt plans with my friends because of it. Covid-19 has been around for two years, I think we need to learn to live with it," she added.

People dining in a restaurant in Clarke Quay on Jan 8, 2022. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Mr Charles Lim, 50, who was with his wife and two-year-old son, said: "It seems to be as crowded as always, which is good because I don't think restaurants should be penalised by having fewer customers because of what happened."

Added the IT trainer: "I wasn't worried about visiting Clarke Quay with my family. Even though I have a young son, we're being careful and abiding by the rules. At the end of the day, I think we need to learn to live with the virus."

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