SINGAPORE - It has been a mad scramble for food and beverage (F&B) establishments to help diners make alternative arrangements for Mother's Day bookings this weekend, when the new limit of five people at a social gathering, announced on Tuesday (May 4), kicks in.
Businesses have been inundated with calls to bring reservations forward to Friday, reduce dining party sizes or cancel bookings altogether.
Some diners have requested to split bookings for larger groups over a few days, while others want to shift reservations to next month instead.
Many are now opting for takeaway or delivery and restaurants are bracing themselves for a surge in orders.
Chinese restaurant Yun Nans' chief operating officer, Mr Reuben Chua, 36, has seen an increase of 10 per cent for pre-orders of its Mother's Day set menu for delivery and takeaway.
He adds that all three outlets - at Jewel Changi Airport, Westgate and Nex - are 80 to 90 per cent full for the Mother's Day weekend and there have been requests from 10 per cent of its existing bookings to dine by Friday instead.
Over at the National Gallery Singapore, Cantonese restaurant Yan has extended its delivery services for an extra day till Sunday to cater to larger families who are unable to dine out. Since the new measures were announced, Yan's general manager, Mr Shek Chi Kuen, 57, has received five orders for takeaway.
He has also hired part-time staff as additional support for the weekend, which is fully booked.
Also expecting a surge in deliveries is Ms Joy Chen, 38, business partner of seafood restaurant Holy Crab at the Arcade @ The Capitol Kempinski Hotel Singapore.
She ordered more takeaway packaging on Wednesday and has advised diners to make pre-orders for the seafood, in anticipation of a drop in dine-in business.
She says: "We are not over-commiting ourselves to bookings or deliveries and are trying to manage guests' expectations in terms of seating capacity, delivery delays and surge in delivery pricing."
Similarly, Japanese restaurant Fat Cow at Camden Medical Centre is expecting more delivery orders to roll in. Ms Betty Tan, group head of marketing and consumer growth for food and beverage company Commonwealth Concepts, which runs Fat Cow, is capping the number of delivery orders it accepts to ensure that food is delivered properly.
Si Chuan Dou Hua's restaurants have prioritised delivery since last year's circuit breaker and its three outlets offer three menus each that run for a month, compared to one delivery menu available for one week last year.
Ms Linda Loke, Si Chuan Dou Hua's director of restaurants, bar and events, says: "We have noticed that families might have to work out several dates to eat together. Before the announcement, we already foresaw a stronger demand for delivery this year, as families might want to stay at home more and keep out of the crowd.
"We also have quite a number of bookings beyond Mother's Day that require diners to re-address the number of people dining in."
The majority of callers so far have requested to bring forward their dining dates to before Saturday and bookings for Father's Day have also started streaming in, she adds.
Since last weekend, the Restaurant Association of Singapore has reached out to its members to hold back on promotions over the next two weeks.
Its spokesman says: "Many members will need to accommodate adjustments to some of the reservations that have already been made, especially for the upcoming three festivities - Mother's Day, Hari Raya Puasa and Vesak Day. We appeal to all F&B operators and customers alike to support these latest measures."