Restaurants make moves to prepare for June 21 reopening
Eateries will make use of upcoming week to get their protocols right
After going nearly a month with no dine-in customers, food and beverage (F&B) outlets received a reprieve yesterday with the announcement that they will be allowed to resume dining in from June 21, if the virus situation stays under control.
The move will be part of the second stage of Singapore's exit from the current phase two (heightened alert). The first stage kicks off on Monday when the size limits of social gatherings and house visitsincrease from two to five, among other measures.
Explaining why F&B outlets will be allowed to host diners in the second phase of reopening, Trade and Industry Minister Gan Kim Yong, co-chair of the multi-ministry task force handling the pandemic, said at a press conference yesterday: "Dining in is considered a high-risk activity because masks are off, and we want to ensure the situation is stable before allowing (it) to resume."
Task force co-chair Lawrence Wong, the Minister of Finance, urged operators to make use of the time to ensure their safety protocols are in place.
He said: "While I understand that F&B operators will be disappointed that they have to wait one more week before they can reopen, I would ask all of them to make use of the one week to really go through their processes, their protocols."
This includes making sure their restaurants have good ventilation and layouts that comply fully with the rule that groups of diners would have to be at least 1m apart, he added.
Mr Teo Tong Loong, group business development director of ABR Holdings, which runs Swensen's, said the chain will be making full use of the week ahead to get ready.
He said: "All our restaurants will undergo thorough cleaning and sanitising, and our staff will be well briefed to strictly adhere to safe distancing measures."
He added that all Swensen's outlets are in shopping malls with good ventilation systems in place.
Other restaurants also said they were confident that proper ventilation systems were in place.
Mr Shek Chi Kuen, general manager of Cantonese restaurant Yan at the National Gallery, said it has installed ozonisers to disinfect the restaurant daily after operating hours.
Dr Martin Bem, founder and managing director of LeVeL33 at Marina Bay Financial Centre, said: "For our indoor area, we have purchased air purifiers with anti-bacterial carbon filter and Hepa filters that also sanitise the air with UV light to increase safety for guests and our staff alike."
It was also announced yesterday that staff who work in higher-risk settings with unmasked customers, such as workers at most F&B establishments, saunas and gyms, will be regularly tested starting next month.
The Government will be covering the cost of these tests for the next three months.
It will also extend the current enhancements to the Jobs Support Scheme until June 20 for affected businesses such as food establishments that cannot yet resume dining in.
Ms Nuria Gibert, director of Restaurant Gaig, an eatery in the CBD area serving Catalan cuisine, welcomed the news.
"We had a 90 per cent drop in sales during this phase. The situation is not sustainable for us at all... After these excruciating weeks, we appreciate even a simple extra dollar," she said.