Coronavirus: Operators scramble to meet new rules

A staff member screening the temperatures of people exiting HarbourFront MRT station into VivoCity mall yesterday. Malls, museums and attractions are allowed to stay open, but must reduce operating capacity to avoid having more than one person per 16
People queueing 1m apart, according to floor markings, at Golden Village cinema at VivoCity mall yesterday. Under the new measures announced on Tuesday, cinemas, bars and other entertainment outlets have to close from 11.59pm today until April 30.ST PHOTO: JOYCE FANG

Some bars unsure if curbs apply to them; malls figuring how to cut capacity, enforce footfall limits

As the clock ticks down on bars to close shop and public venues to restrict crowds, operators are scrambling to prepare for the new rules.

Some bars told The Straits Times yesterday that they remain unsure whether the latest measures meant to curb the spread of the coronavirus apply to them as they operate on restaurant or food stall licences.

Malls, meanwhile, said they were in the process of figuring out the extent to which they have to cut capacity, and how to enforce limits on footfall and group size.

On Tuesday, the Government announced that bars, cinemas and other entertainment outlets have to close from 11.59pm today until April 30, while gatherings outside of work and school will be capped at 10 people.

Other public venues, such as malls, museums and attractions, may stay open, but must reduce operating capacity to avoid having more than one person per 16 sq m of usable space - about the size of an HDB flat bedroom.

They must also ensure safe distancing measures, suspend shows and tours, and disperse groups of more than 10 or face penalties if they are found to have been a place of transmission for Covid-19.

To comply, City Square Mall will temporarily redirect traffic flow to a few manned entrances to restrict capacity, said developer and manager City Developments.

The entrance that connects to Farrer Park MRT station will remain open, a spokesman said.

Security personnel will also keep a lookout for large groups and disperse them, where necessary.


A staff member screening the temperatures of people exiting HarbourFront MRT station into VivoCity mall yesterday. Malls, museums and attractions are allowed to stay open, but must reduce operating capacity to avoid having more than one person per 16 sq m of usable space - about the size of an HDB flat bedroom. ST PHOTO: JOYCE FANG
 

Spaced-out seating arrangements at eateries and floor markings to maintain a 1m spacing in queues have already been in place at malls, while attractions say they have reduced their capacity by up to 50 per cent, in line with recent social distancing measures.

Frasers Property Retail said tenants at its malls have been advised to remove all food and product samples as part of precautions.

 
 
 
 

Security staff will be deployed for crowd control, it added.

Other businesses in the entertainment and food and beverage sectors, already badly hit by a halt in tourism and slowdown in local spending, are preparing to shut for a month come midnight.

Ah Sam Cold Drink Stall, located in Boat Quay, will stop operations at 11.59pm.

Bar manager Sim Sze Wei, 37, acknowledged the move was necessary, adding: "There is a lot of uncertainty, but the staff will be taken care of as much as possible.

"Like all the other bars, we will definitely face cash flow problems, so now we have to get creative on how we can sustain the business."

Resorts World Sentosa said its attractions, which include Universal Studios Singapore and the S.E.A. Aquarium, will stay open.

Gardens by the Bay, which had reduced the operating capacity of its enclosed attractions by half earlier this month, said it would cut this by a further 50 per cent. At the Flower Dome, for example, a maximum of 200 visitors will be allowed at any one point, down from the original holding capacity of 1,500.

Dr Cheng Wen-Haur, deputy chief executive of Wildlife Reserves Singapore, said its parks will remain open.

To ensure guests do not "bunch together", all shows, animal interactions and token feedings have been suspended, along with most tram and boat operations.

F&B, retail and ticketing operations have been scaled down, along with a 70 per cent dip in visitors over the last two months, said Dr Cheng, who added that resourcing for critical functions that oversee animal care has continued. "These are unprecedented times," he said.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 26, 2020, with the headline 'Operators scramble to meet new rules'. Print Edition | Subscribe