SINGAPORE - Gemma Steakhouse at the National Gallery Singapore has been suspended for 20 days for holding a dinner for 75 guests on Oct 31 and not preventing them from mixing, in a flagrant violation of Covid-19 safe management measures, said the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment (MSE).
The Singapore Food Agency (SFA), which comes under the ministry, found that a private members' club had worked with the restaurant to organise the Halloween-themed dinner, which was attended by both members of the club and their guests.
Although the diners were seated at tables of up to five, closed-circuit television footage showed that they intermingled on multiple occasions, and failed to wear their masks even when they were not eating or drinking, the ministry said.
The footage also showed that the restaurant staff did not take reasonable steps to prevent the intermingling on the premises.
Details of the club and those involved were not given. The ministry said: "Investigations are continuing in respect of possible breaches by various parties."
Social gatherings of more than five people are prohibited under Covid-19 regulations. Food and beverage outlets are also barred from accepting bookings from groups of more than five, even if such groups are split across many tables. Intermingling between groups is also not allowed.
The SFA has issued an order requiring the restaurant to close for 20 days from Thursday (Dec 3) to Dec 22, for accepting a large group booking, and for failing to take reasonable steps to prevent multiple instances of intermingling among diners.
Meanwhile, the National Gallery said that when it was informed by the authorities of the incident, the Gallery reached out to the outlet, which is managed by F&B operator Il Lido, and reinforced its policy on strictly following safe management measures (SMMs).
"The Gallery also facilitated SFA's investigation into the incident, which subsequently revealed that the restaurant did not ensure that the stipulated SMMs were adhered to despite being informed by the Gallery of government regulations," it added.
The Gallery said it has issued an official warning letter to Il Lido on the breach and will reinforce strict compliance of SMMs with tenants.
In a statement on Friday night, Gemma said it created a themed dinner experience for Oct 31 and marketed it to the database of a private members' club, which acted as its marketing partner.
"For that night, the restaurant received 17 reservations in different tables in groups of four to five guests per table, who came in different timings," it said, admitting guests had intermingled despite attempted reminders.
"The restaurant is cognisant that it did not do enough to manage the situation, and is deeply sorry for its actions," it added, saying it has been cooperating with SFA and will take the next 20 days to reinforce and enhance SMMs.
In a Facebook post on Friday, the restaurant apologised to supporters and guests, especially those whose reservations were affected. It assured customers that reservations are open from Dec 23.
In its statement, MSE said: "The Government holds a serious view of flagrant breaches of SMMs."
"Dining out is an activity that involves considerable risks. It entails gathering in enclosed spaces, without masks on, and for a prolonged duration. While the majority have been adhering to the measures, it is regrettable that there remains a minority who continue to breach SMMs," it added.
"We will not hesitate to take strong enforcement action against operators and individuals who treat SMMs with flagrant disregard."
The ministry also said that Covid-19 remains a grave threat, and a resurgence of infections - as seen elsewhere - could have devastating effects on lives and livelihoods.
Urging members of the public to be socially responsible, it added: "Our collective efforts will determine if we successfully make the transition to phase three."