Restaurants in Singapore Urge Customers Not to 'Game' Social Distancing Measures
This comes after some people have found creative ways to "cheat" the system.
Phase 2 of Singapore’s reopening has seen customers slowly making their return to restaurants, after the easing of social distancing measures during circuit breaker.
For now, gatherings of more than five people are not allowed at F&B outlets, even if seated separately.
Even so, some people have found creative ways to “cheat” the system – prompting restaurants to urge customers not to do so, to prevent any dire consequences.
In a Facebook post on Saturday (15 Aug), Japanese restaurant chain Teppei Group shared that there have been requests from customers to accommodate groups of more than five, suggesting the creative way of splitting diners into different reservations.
Japanese chef-restaurateur Teppei Yamashita told 8 Days that he would receive such requests about once a week. “When we told them about the requirement, they insisted that it’s okay as long as they are in groups of five, whereas our understanding is a maximum of five pax per group of friends.”
Teppei Group made their stand clear on social media, saying that they are “not ready to risk being penalised for not following the regulations”, even if they have to turn away big groups of customers.
Yamashita added that he had to deal with customers who had split up their reservations, only to mingle with their friends when seated. “For such cases, on the actual day, we will advise them to not mingle and perhaps reach out to police if the group refuses to co-operate.”
However, exceptions could be made if there are more than five people from the same household. Teppei said it will evaluate the request on a case-by-case basis and will most likely require proof of residence for confirmation.
Sid Kim, the owner of Vatos Urban Tacos at South Beach and Vatos Cantina at Holland Village, had also expressed anguish at the lack of respect for safe distancing regulations at his restaurants.
In a Facebook post on Sunday (16 Aug), he described an incident where two tables of five had continued to socialise despite multiple warnings from his staff. It had caught the attention of a social distancing officer, who warned the restaurant that they would be fined and shut down if the situation had not been resolved.
In another incident, customers at the Holland Village outlet ignored warnings from the manager to stop mingling with different tables. When asked to leave the premises, the guests refused and the police were called. However, the guests left before the police arrived.
“For customers, breaching the safe distancing regulations might not seem that important, but for restaurants, it’s literally a matter of life or death. Many F&B establishments are barely hanging on as it is — a massive fine and 10 days of mandatory shut down could easily be the final nail in the coffin,” Kim explained.
He urged customers to be more understanding as the livelihood of the staff depends on the business staying open and not to subject restaurants to “this type of situation”.
Customers have to play their part too
While F&B operators have the responsibility to implement safe distancing measures in their establishments, restaurants maintain that customers have to play their part too.
Mabeline Chea, manager of Lei Garden Restaurant, told Today that even though its staff members are fully aware of the rules and have been briefed, they are unable to differentiate groups of customers if customers call separately.
In another report by Today, Kenny Goh, supervisor at the nearby Wala Wala cafe bar, added that on several occasions, the staff learnt that groups knew each other only after they had been seated.
“For example, a table of five ordered a tower of beer and some food, only to have individuals from another table walking over to help themselves,” he shared.
Serious consequences for rule-breakers
The consequences of breaking the law are serious and could put business at risk of a suspension or a fine.
Hai Xian Lao, a hotpot restaurant in Orchard, was given a $2,000 fine and ordered to suspend operations for 10 days for allowing group sizes of more than five people and failing to maintain a 1-metre distance between groups of customers.
Restaurants in Singapore such as Idle restaurant, located at Infinite Studios, had also been ordered to shut its doors for 10 days. The restaurant had violated safe management measures by allowing groups larger than five people to mingle with each other.
This article was first published in AsiaOne and republished on theAsianparent with permission.
Lead image source: iStock