More than 340 F&B outlets fined between last June and this March for breaching Covid-19 measures

A Singapore Food Agency officer during an operation at an F&B outlet on June 26, 2021.
A Singapore Food Agency officer during an operation at an F&B outlet on June 26, 2021.ST PHOTO: MOHD KHALID BABA

SINGAPORE - More than 340 food and beverage (F&B) outlets were fined for breaching Covid-19 safe management measures from the start of phase two in June last year to the end of March this year.

This included nightlife establishments that pivoted to F&B operations, said the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) on Saturday (June 26) in response to queries from The Straits Times.

Over 100 F&B outlets were also suspended in the same period.

ST followed officers from the SFA on an operation at five outlets in Jalan Leban and Thong Soon Avenue on Saturday evening - the first weekend since the ban on dining in to curb the spread of Covid-19 was lifted.

Such operations ensure that safe management measures are followed at F&B establishments, such as having diners and staff wear their masks properly at all times except when eating or drinking, the SFA said.

Other measures officers look out for include ensuring that patrons observe a safe distance of at least 1m in queues and between groups of diners, and that groups do not exceed the permitted size.

"We also ensure that there is no sale or consumption of alcohol after 10.30pm, or the provision of public entertainment," the SFA said.

One business is being investigated for having two different groups of people seated at the same table, with only an acrylic divider between the groups.

Reminders were also given at another establishment to ensure patrons sat 1m apart.

SFA enforcement officer Aldric Ang, who has been conducting these checks since January, said: "Usually the first thing we look out for is whether they are wearing masks properly. We also look out for the number of patrons seated together and if safe distancing is observed."

Officers also check that safe management measures are adhered to by staff in the kitchen area. Sometimes food handlers might not wear their masks properly over their noses, Mr Ang noted.

SFA officers do not hand out fines on the spot, but they will investigate the lapse and gather evidence such as taking down details of the individuals or F&B operators. The agency may also take a statement from them.

Investigations generally wrap up within three months, but the timeframe varies depending on the complexity of the case, the SFA said.

Safe distancing operation exercises are typically conducted during periods of higher human traffic or at timings known to have safe management non-compliance.

Teams of around three to five officers are typically deployed to different areas during such exercises.

In previous instances that saw F&B outlets fined, the SFA observed that common breaches included allowing groups larger than the permitted number to be seated together, seating customers less than 1m apart, and allowing intermingling of customers between tables.