SINGAPORE: The Mandarin Orchard Hotel's main ballroom and banquet kitchen will be allowed to resume operations following a norovirus outbreak last month, the National Environment Agency (NEA) announced in a media release on Tuesday (Jan 29).
The hotel's Grand Ballroom was closed on Dec 5 last year and the hotel was ordered to conduct a thorough cleaning and disinfection, after a norovirus outbreak was traced to five separate events held at the ballroom.
The banquet kitchen serving the Grand Ballroom was also suspended for 55 days.
On Tuesday, NEA said it would be lifting this suspension as it was "satisfied that the measures required to rectify the lapses detected have been implemented".
"Operations can resume together with the re-opening of the Grand Ballroom," said the agency.
However, it added that the hotel would be placed under "close surveillance" to ensure it complies with enhanced food safety and cleaning regimes.
A total of 333 people fell ill after attending events held at the ballroom from Dec 1 to Dec 3 last year. Fourteen people were hospitalised and have since been discharged.
Authorities found "strong evidence of severe contamination" at the ballroom with norovirus from poor environmental and personal hygiene practices.
This included the "improper cleaning" of vomit from an incident in the ballroom before Dec 1.
Norovirus was detected from the stool samples collected from 26 affected people, three food handlers and 51 service staff, including banquet servers who reportedly continued working while they were ill, said the agency.
Environmental swabs collected from the Grand Ballroom also detected norovirus from its wall panels, carpet, table tops, chairs, unused table cloths, cutlery and drinking glasses.
NEA WILL TAKE 'APPROPRIATE ACTION' OVER LAPSES
During the suspension, the hotel complied with measures stipulated by NEA, such as disposing all ready-to-eat food, thawed food and perishable food items and cleaning and sanitising the premises, said the agency.
It also submitted plans on enhanced food safety and cleaning regimes, including systems to ensure staff members practise good food and personal hygiene and do not work when ill.
The agency said it is currently reviewing the findings of the investigation and will take "appropriate action" against the licensee for lapses found.
The hotel will also be placed under "close surveillance" to ensure it adheres to the food safety and cleaning regime plans it submitted.
The Mandarin Orchard outbreak was just one in a spate of food poisoning-related illnesses in recent months. Hundreds fell ill in outbreaks involving food operators including Spize and Tung Lok, with the most serious of them involving a fatality.
Tung Lok Millenium, whose operating licence was suspended for 62 days after a food poisoning outbreak left 190 people ill, had its licence reinstated on Jan 24.