Lunchtime crowds in CBD, Orchard thin ahead of tighter Covid-19 rules on social gatherings

The lunchtime crowd at Tsuta at 313@somerset on May 7, 2021.
The lunchtime crowd at Tsuta at 313@somerset on May 7, 2021.ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN
People dining at basement 2 of 313@somerset on May 7, 2021.
People dining at basement 2 of 313@somerset on May 7, 2021.ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

SINGAPORE - The lunch crowd at eateries and restaurants in the city was thin on Friday (May 7), a day before rules are tightened on the number of people allowed to gather as a group.

The number will be reduced from eight to five.

In the CBD area, including Raffles City and Suntec City, as well as at 313 Somerset in Orchard, mostly everyone in food outlets and restaurants gathered in groups of five or fewer.

From May 8 to the end of the month, Singapore will return to phase two of its reopening as a result of the recent spike in Covid-19 cases in the community.

The stricter measures kicking in from Saturday also apply to households, which will be able to receive only five distinct visitors a day.

During lunchtime on Friday at Gochi-So Shokudo in One Raffles Place, investment analyst Dannel Low was having a meal with four other colleagues.

"I think the limits on social gathering are much needed, there is much complacency regarding the whole Covid-19 situation. The vaccination probably gave us more optimism than we should have, but it is not 100 per cent foolproof against contracting the virus. I think people should still be vigilant," said Mr Low, 31.

Student Alvin Foo, 19, who was with three friends in the food hall at 313 Somerset, said he had no plans to attend any large gathering.

Mr James Tan, 42, a manager in the IT sector, who was in a group of four at the food hall, said: "Nowadays, I try to limit social gatherings to smaller groups, even during phase three. I don't visit pubs for drinking or (go) clubbing any more."

Restaurants and eateries at 313 Somerset have started to prepare for the safe management measures required from Saturday, from placing tapes around chairs to rearranging tables to accommodate groups of five or fewer.

At grilled fish restaurant Tan Yu, supervisor Wang Sha said patrons waiting for seats would be assigned numbers so that they only need to turn up when the table is ready.

She said this was to ensure that there would be no crowding outside the restaurant. Customers would be contacted by phone when a table is available.

At the same mall, Korean restaurant Masizzim is expecting a slight decrease in footfall when the restrictions come into force, according to a part-time waitress at the outlet.

GO Noodle House's manager, Mr Alex Lim - who has completed preparing for the heightened measures - observed that since the Covid-19 cluster emerged at Tan Tock Seng Hospital last week, business at the restaurant has dropped by 40 per cent.

"The restaurant usually has very long queues, but there has been no queues since (the start of ) May," said Mr Lim, 39.

Additional reporting by Eleanor Yeo, Gabrielle Ng, Ivan Kwee and Fang Yiyang