F&B operators at Holland Village hope recent brawl won't derail return of outdoor dining

A video posted on Facebook group Complaint Singapore shows a group of men brawling on the pavement on April 8, 2022. PHOTOS: JALALUDDIN AKBAR/FACEBOOK, JEFFREY CHEE/FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - A recent brawl in Lorong Mambong at Holland Village has sparked concern among food and beverage (F&B) operators who had been hoping for the return of outdoor dining after nearly two years, as part of the easing of Covid-19 measures.

A video posted on Facebook group Complaint Singapore shows a group of men brawling on the pavement last Friday night (April 8). A man wearing a white top falls on the road and is kicked as he lies there for about 10 seconds.

The police said they were alerted to a case of voluntarily causing hurt at around 11.30pm and a 22-year-old man was taken conscious to hospital.

Investigations are ongoing.

Mr Lovein Shrestha, who owns Baden Restaurant & Pub, told The Straits Times (ST) on Tuesday (April 12) that he had seen about eight men alighting from a car at the scene just before the incident.

He is worried that circulation of the video online could bring unwanted attention to the area, which has been badly hit by the pandemic and the ban on outdoor dining.

"I hope that people who come to this area will behave, as it can affect all the businesses here," he added.

On June 20, 2020, the authorities banned outdoor dining in Lorong Mambong after crowds were seen breaching safe distancing rules the previous night when a fight broke out, resulting in the arrest of three men.

It was the first day of Singapore's phase two reopening after the circuit breaker.

In an update on Tuesday, a police spokesman told ST that investigations into the incident have closed.

Mr Lovein, who is in his 30s, said that since Lorong Mambong was reopened to vehicular traffic, his business has been down by about 70 per cent due to the ban on outdoor dining, which was popular, as well as Covid-19 restrictions.

Noting that business has picked up slightly in the two weekends since restrictions on the sale and consumption of alcohol after 10.30pm were lifted on March 29, he is hoping the latest brawl would not be a setback.

He added: "There are fights that happen in many other areas, but once someone takes a video and it is circulated, it becomes a big issue."

Mr Amit Kumar, a manager at Wala Wala Cafe Bar in Lorong Mambong, said that since the ban, people have congregated on the pavements that used to be filled with diners. But they do not patronise the F&B establishments.

He did not see the recent brawl as he was busy working, but was disappointed when he found out about it.

"I am not sure what happened, but I am hoping that it does not affect our hopes to get back outdoor dining soon, as the ban has hurt us," he added.

Singapore Nightlife Business Association (SNBA) president Nasen Thiagarajan told ST that a committee was formed after the June 2020 incident to look into how crowds can be better managed.

The committee has been working with SNBA to come up with guidelines to handle crowds and will be meeting the authorities next week.

Mr Nasen, who is also the chief executive of Harry's International, which has an outlet in Lorong Mambong, is optimistic the ban can be lifted soon despite the latest incident.

He said: "While several other businesses and members of the public also use the area and sometimes can be the cause of some of the issues here, the ban on outdoor dining has greatly affected the F&B operators in Lorong Mambong.

"When we can use the outdoor area for dining again, we will work with the authorities to quickly identify those who cause trouble to ensure the area is safe."

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