Singapore

Eateries gearing up to manage diners for festive season

Eateries are gearing up for the festive season by implementing a host of measures that will accommodate customers in a safe way.

Some restaurants are hiring more staff to ensure customers adhere to safe management measures, while others are putting up more visual reminders, such as posters, about Covid-19 regulations.

Under current rules that will remain in effect until Sunday, social gatherings in groups of more than five are not allowed outside an individual's residence.

Food and beverage (F&B) outlets are not permitted to accept bookings from groups larger than five, even if such groups are split across multiple tables. Groups are not allowed to intermingle.

From Dec 28, when phase three of Singapore's reopening kicks in, people will be allowed to meet in groups of up to eight.

Restaurants are taking steps to ensure customers do not let their guard down before phase three begins, even as they make merry during the festive season.

Mr G. Shanmugam, owner of Bottoms Up restaurant in Telok Ayer, said he will be accepting fewer reservations over the next two weeks to ensure customers do not make separate reservations and then mingle across tables.

Mr Stephane Heard, vice-president of F&B operations at Como Dempsey, which operates six restaurants in the Dempsey area, said it has hired more part-time staff to help manage the large crowds expected on Christmas Day.

All these measures are on top of existing ones in place since June, say those interviewed.

But while businesses take steps to ensure rules are followed, they also seek cooperation from customers.

Mr Wei Chan, honorary secretary of the Restaurant Association of Singapore, said the penalties for individuals pale in comparison with the costs borne by establishments.

Individuals who flout safe distancing measures are fined $300 for the first offence. Businesses, however, are fined and forced to close temporarily, Mr Chan said.

"Being forced to close during the festive period will hurt establishments badly," he added.

The Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment said on Friday there will be more checks on F&B outlets to make sure safe management measures are adhered to.

The stepped-up surveillance will extend over the next few weeks to cover the end-of-year festive period.

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Food & Drink