SINGAPORE: Some clubs which had planned to hold promotional events on the night before their venues are slated to close have decided against such moves, they told CNA on Wednesday (Mar 25).
This follows an announcement made on Tuesday (Mar 24) that gatherings outside school and work will be limited to a maximum of 10 people from Thursday at 11.59pm to Apr 30 this year, the COVID-19 multi-ministry task force had said.
In addition, the task force said in a statement that it all entertainment venues must close, such as night clubs, discos, karaoke outlets, cinemas and theatres where it said there is a high risk of transmission due to sustained close contact over a period of time.
READ: COVID-19 temporary measures: Gatherings outside of school and work limited to 10 people, entertainment venues to close
Speaking to CNA, Magic Carpet Lounge managing director Mr Sanjay Rekhi said that the club will close one day early and call off a promotion on Wednesday night. The promotion originally involved a free cover charge and a buy one get one free bottle promotion.
“We discussed within the club stakeholders, and the collective opinion was that it was best to be prudent and safe,” he told CNA. “We understand some of our customers may not be happy about the cancellation but at least they will be be safe.”
Magic Carpet Lounge had already implemented a host of precautionary measures prior to the Government announcement to limit events to 250 participants, said Mr Sanjay. This included keeping the club “exclusive” to the first 100 guests, temperature screenings, as well as the recording of customers' details.
READ: Ticketed events with 250 participants or more to be deferred, cancelled under COVID-19 social-distancing measures: MOH
"As a business owner, I would rather be safe than sorry. Financial losses can be recovered - lives cannot be,” said Mr Sanjay. “We had started restricting our club entry to 100, we are a 4,300 square feet venue. Based on Singapore’s new policy, we are allowed 150 or 200 people in the club. But we have started restricting ourselves to the first 100 people to come into the club as early as two weeks ago.”
However, Mr Sanjay pointed out that clubs such as his need more help from landlords especially given the current economic situation.
“We are also hoping with this government announcement of a shutdown, there is a way that we can go back … to our landlord and say that can this be termed as something like a force majeure, an act of God … and they could let us not pay rent.
"Because if not, we are going to go out of business. Before this virus thing is done, we will be done.”
In a post on Instagram, Cherry Discotheque said that its "It was nice knowing you farewell party" had been cancelled.
"We apologise for the lack of foresight," said the post. "We bear full responsibility in our poor decision making process and are currently working to correct our operations protocols."
VIP sofa reservations will be refunded and guests have been advised to stay home, it added.
Other clubs holding special promotions on Wednesday night included Club Lux's "The Last Supper". The club did not reply to CNA's requests for comment and it is unclear if the event will proceed as planned.
In a Instagram post, Canvas Singapore said that all "club nights" will be called off with immediate effect - one day before the closures were slated to kick in.
"Safety and health should come first," it said. "We seek the understanding and patience of our valued customers and strive to overcome this difficult time together."
READ: Nightlife operators reminded to follow COVID-19 safe distancing measures amid concerns of people congregating at 'farewell' events
On Wednesday night, Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam said in a Facebook post that he had requested police and enforcement agencies to step up checks after reports of clubs offering promotions for "one last bash".
"It needs to be understood that these are exceptional times – it is reckless, irresponsible to behave like it is 'life as normal'," said Mr Shanmugam.
If the rules are disregarded, action will be taken, including having the authorities look at the establishments' licences to operate, he said.
Earlier on Wednesday, a joint-statement by the Singapore Tourism Board, Enterprise Singapore and Singapore Police Force emphasised that nightlife operators must continue to “strictly implement” safe distancing measures.
“We are aware a number of nightlife operators intend to host “farewell” events tonight that could result in large numbers of people congregating,” the joint-statement said.
“The Multi-Ministry Taskforce’s decision to enforce stricter safe distancing measures aims to significantly reduce the risks of seeding new local COVID-19 clusters, which could strain our healthcare system further.”
These safe distancing measures involve the suspending of events with 250 or more participants, as well as the implementation of safety measures for events with fewer than 250 participants such as reducing mingling amongst participants.
“These safe distancing measures are enforceable. Officers from government agencies including the Singapore Police Force will be on the ground to monitor the situation and carry out enforcement action over the next two days,” said the statement.
“During this time, we appeal to Singaporeans to exercise good judgement and social responsibility. This will play an important part in keeping fellow Singaporeans and our loved ones safe in the midst of this global pandemic.”