Coronavirus: More subdued atmosphere at nightspots a week into phase 2, but business picking up

Foot traffic was light in Holland Village with short queues of diners outside some restaurants on June 26, 2020. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

SINGAPORE - The atmosphere at popular nightspots in Singapore was markedly more sober on Friday (June 26) night - one week into phase two of post-circuit breaker measures, after initial episodes of over-exuberance led to some individuals and businesses running afoul of the law.

Holland Village was unusually subdued when The Straits Times visited on Friday evening, although there was a substantial dinner crowd at most bars and eateries, as well as the hawker centre, and the durian stall was doing a roaring trade.

But foot traffic was conspicuously light on the main thoroughfare of Lorong Mambong, with only groups of smokers and short queues of diners outside some restaurants.

A bar there, Drinks & Co. Kitchen, was nearly full when ST visited. An employee said business has been good since phase two kicked in.

"But we don't see as many walk-in customers now. Most of our customers choose to make a reservation in advance," he added.

The Government had come down hard on errant partygoers and businesses flouting safe distancing measures in the past week.

Holland Village restaurant British Indian Curry Hut was ordered to close by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) last Saturday for not ensuring safe distancing measures.

Images and videos circulated on social media last weekend showed scenes of overcrowding at the restaurant in Lorong Mambong after two fights broke out on June 19 night.

Lorong Mambong was also reopened to traffic to prevent people from gathering in the street, and all dining areas along the sidewalks were removed.

British Indian Curry Hut was open on Friday, but only for takeaways. An employee told ST that the restaurant will reopen for dine-in on Monday.

It was a similar story in Robertson Quay, where a large dinnertime crowd was enjoying food and drink, masking up before and after meals.

People eating at Holland Village market and food centre along Lorong Mambong at about 9.25pm on June 26, 2020. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Many eateries adopted outdoor seating arrangements to expand their capacity while keeping in line with safe distancing requirements.

An employee from the Boomarang bar and bistro said the number of diners is slowly beginning to return to pre-circuit breaker levels.

"Business is much better than in phase one (of the circuit breaker). It's still a bit less than pre-Covid-19 though because we aren't allowed to screen live sports yet," he said.

On Thursday, the Ministry of Manpower said it had revoked the work passes of 140 work pass holders who had broken the law between May 1 and June 25, 98 of whom were caught breaching circuit breaker measures, while the other 42 breached their stay-home notices or quarantine orders.

The 98 individuals were variously found eating, drinking and gathering in groups in public during the circuit breaker. These took place at locations such as dormitories, private residential areas, East Coast Park and Robertson Quay.

Seven people who had gathered near Robertson Quay on May 16 were also fined in court on Thursday. Six of them were among the 98 work pass holders who lost their work passes.

In addition to having their work passes revoked, these individuals have also been permanently banned from working in Singapore.

Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli noted on Friday that the majority of the public have been observing safe distancing measures and wearing masks when out, but added that Singapore's collective defence against Covid-19 is "only as strong as our weakest point".

"While it is understandable that more people will be out and about in phase two, I hope that everyone understands the importance of continuing to abide by these measures," he said.

"To safeguard public health and safety, we will not hesitate to take action against egregious breaches of safe distancing rules... (such as those) at Robertson Quay and Holland Village."

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