Coronavirus: F&B outlets must play recorded music softly

Households with more than five members who want to share a meal together are the only groups who can book more than one table. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Recorded music at food and beverage (F&B) outlets can only be played softly in the background so patrons do not have to raise their voices to be heard, Education Minister Lawrence Wong said at a virtual press conference yesterday.

Mr Wong, who co-chairs a multi-ministry task force battling Covid-19, said: "This is a concern because of the risk of people speaking loudly and droplets spreading, especially when diners are in a restaurant in close proximity within a table, without their masks on.

"So, as an added precaution, we will tighten the rules to make very clear to all F&B outlets that recorded music at these outlets will only be allowed as soft background music."

Live music and live broadcasts - both on television and radio - as well as video screenings remain disallowed.

Mr Wong also said that the task force is looking into situations where people are booking multiple tables at a single restaurant so that groups of more than five can gather.

He said: "We urge everyone to refrain from booking multiple tables for large gatherings in a restaurant. We also seek the cooperation of F&B operators not to accept such reservations."

Households with more than five members who want to share a meal together are the only groups who are exempt, and can book more than one table.

"There should not be organised events, celebrations or parties in an F&B setting involving multiple tables," he said, whether or not the tables are in a restaurant's general seating area or in a private room.

"There should not be such gatherings because people in such gatherings tend to be mingling amongst themselves without their masks on, and there are risks of large clusters forming in such settings."

Enforcement officers will be stepping up their checks on F&B outlets, and they will take enforcement action against individuals or F&B operators in breach of safe distancing rules, he added.

Last Saturday, hotpot restaurant Hai Xian Lao in Shaw House, in Orchard Road, was fined $2,000 and ordered to suspend operations for 10 days for failing to comply with safe management measures.

This included failing to ensure that group sizes did not exceed five people.

Enforcement officers had noticed a group of more than 20 people leaving the restaurant, and further checks revealed that the group had been seated in a locked private room within the restaurant.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 22, 2020, with the headline F&B outlets must play recorded music softly. Subscribe