Coronavirus: Last night to party till wee hours, but crowds stay away

Club-goers did not have to wait long to enter popular nightclubs like Zouk (above), while at Le Noir (left), a bar at Clarke Quay, only a handful of patrons were spotted. ST PHOTOS: KEVIN LIM
Club-goers did not have to wait long to enter popular nightclubs like Zouk (above), while at Le Noir, a bar at Clarke Quay, only a handful of patrons were spotted. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

The music was pumping and the lights were flashing in bars, pubs and nightclubs at Clarke Quay. But one thing was missing - the crowd.

Yesterday was the last full night for patrons to party before nightclubs, pubs and bars shutter for more than a month at 11.59pm tonight, as part of the latest measures announced to stem the further spread of the coronavirus here.

But crowds were sparse at the various entertainment outlets located at Clarke Quay when The Straits Times visited last night. A handful of patrons were out and about for what some said was their last "hurrah" at their favourite watering holes.

Cyber security manager Joe Hani A, 49, who was at a bar along the Singapore River, said he would miss hanging out at Le Noir, which he has visited at least once a week for the last decade.

"Disappointment would be too weak a word to describe how I feel," said Mr Joe of the news that entertainment outlets would have to close until the end of next month.

"I will have to make do with weekly gatherings with friends at my place instead until the bars re-open," he said, adding that he will make sure to keep the group to 10 people or fewer.

Even at popular nightclubs like Zouk, patrons did not have to wait long to enter and queues formed only as club-goers complied with measures such as temperature-taking and filling up contact tracing forms before entering.

Over at Emerald Hill, crowds were equally sparse as the usually packed street was empty, save for a few patrons.

A 47-year-old finance executive from France, who gave his name only as Mr Didier, was at a bar with a friend. He said following the closures, he would have to drink at home or at restaurants instead.


Club-goers did not have to wait long to enter popular nightclubs like Zouk, while at Le Noir (above), a bar at Clarke Quay, only a handful of patrons were spotted. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

"But I am not complaining because elsewhere in Europe or France, for instance, I hear from family or friends that they are having it much worse. So, it is a luxury to still be able to see one another and have drinks," he added.

As part of the extensive measures announced on Tuesday by the multi-ministry task force tackling the Covid-19 outbreak, entertainment outlets will have to stop operations from 11.59pm tonight until April 30. These include places like karaoke outlets, cinemas and theatres.

 
 
 

The task force also said that gatherings outside school and work will be limited to a maximum of 10 people as part of the latest wave of sweeping regulations after the number of cases in Singapore more than doubled in the past week, from 266 to a total of 631 currently.

Earlier yesterday, the Singapore Tourism Board, Enterprise Singapore and police reminded entertainment outlets that they had to continue implementing safe distancing measures announced on March 20 if they intended to hold farewell events. These include having no more than 250 participants, a distance of at least a metre between all participants and reduced mingling.

But even without such social distancing measures, some live bands at Clarke Quay played to empty bars, while others saw just one or two tables filled with patrons.

Some nightclubs, such as Cherry Discotheque and Canvas Club Singapore, which had earlier said they would be holding special promotions and farewell events yesterday, also called them off on the same day.

 
 

Said engineer Albert Johnson, 35, who was at Clarke Quay to have a drink "before the real farewell": "It is a pity that the businesses all have to close. I felt that stopping community gathering was sufficient, so I think it is a bit of an over-exaggeration."

Others like a 31-year-old port worker, who wanted to be known only as Za and was at Clarke Quay with friends, said he was going to drink until the bars closed as it would be the last night he would be able to do so for a while.

"While I do feel sad that the bars will close for a while, I think it is also good to comply with such measures. Hopefully, the Covid-19 situation will end," he said.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 26, 2020, with the headline 'Last night to party till wee hours, but crowds stay away'. Print Edition | Subscribe