The Banana Leaf Apolo fined $10,000 for Covid-19 breaches when hosting birthday party

About 40 people attended the party on the second floor of The Banana Leaf Apolo.
About 40 people attended the party on the second floor of The Banana Leaf Apolo.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Restaurant chain The Banana Leaf Apolo was on Wednesday (May 5) fined $10,000 for breaching Covid-19 regulations when it hosted a birthday party at one of its outlets.

The restaurant chain, well known for its fish head curry, pleaded guilty to two charges under the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) Act.

Three similar charges were taken into consideration by District Judge Ng Cheng Thiam during sentencing.

The restaurant chain, which committed the offences at its Little India Arcade outlet in Serangoon Road on Sept 12 last year, hosted the birthday party after taking an advance booking for it earlier.

About 40 people attended the party on the second floor of the outlet.

The court heard that the company failed to take steps to ensure that any gathering at the outlet did not exceed the maximum permissible group size. At that time, gatherings were limited to five people.

The court heard that The Banana Leaf Apolo even set up a sound system, microphones and projector, which allowed for customers to make speeches and for a video montage to be played during the gathering.

Food was also laid out as a self-service buffet and tables were positioned close to one another.

Guests started arriving at about 6pm, and the party lasted until about 10pm.

Some of the customers were found to have intermingled and failed to keep a safe distance of at least 1m apart from one another.

"Taken together, the event posed a very high risk of transmission of Covid-19 if anyone had been infected with the virus and could well have given rise to a Covid-19 cluster," Deputy Public Prosecutor Stephanie Koh told the court.

The gathering was observed by safe distancing ambassadors, who noted that the outlet manager was not present, as he was involved with another event on the ground floor.

The Singapore Tourism Board filed a magistrate's complaint against the restaurant chain on Jan 20 this year over its multiple breaches during the pandemic.

The company could have been fined up to $10,000 for each offence.