Hawker centre, coffee shop operators required to remind unvaccinated patrons not to dine in: Grace Fu
SINGAPORE: Hawker centre and coffee shop operators will be required to remind patrons that they should not dine in if they are unvaccinated against COVID-19, said Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu on Tuesday (Oct 12).
"We (would) like to urge everybody, especially those that are unvaccinated seniors, to avoid crowded places, to protect yourself, to protect your family," said Ms Fu in a video soundbite released to the media.
From Wednesday, vaccination-differentiated safe management measures will be implemented at hawker centres and coffee shops. Those who are unvaccinated will not be allowed to dine-in at these premises but can still buy and take away food.
Ms Fu said the measures will be "implemented in a very pragmatic way".
"We have more than 100 hawker centres and more than 1,000 coffee shops and each one of them have different layouts, with very different operational requirements," she said.
"We understand from the operators that it's very challenging to implement a single access point or to have a mandatory, compulsory checking access point. So we have decided to take a pragmatic approach in implementing the (vaccination-differentiated safe management measures) from now onwards.
"So at our hawker centres and coffee shops, we require operators to remind their patrons, that if they are not vaccinated that they shouldn't dine in."
She added there will also be posters and public announcement systems, where applicable, to "constantly remind" diners who are unvaccinated that they should not be dining in.
Coffee shop operators will not be required to fence up their premises.
"We know that many of them have multiple access points, very porous, just like hawker centres, and it would be very operational challenging to install a single access point with the manpower to man it," said Ms Fu.
Coffee shops will also be required to check a diner's vaccination status at a fixed point, such as their drink stalls or coffee stalls.
Ms Fu also urged operators who are aware of unvaccinated patrons who are dining in to remind them not to do so and to "quickly leave the premises". Stallholders at hawker centres will also be required to remind unvaccinated diners to do the same.
Seating arrangements at hawker centres will also be reviewed, and in centres where there are "a bit" of crowding, some chairs may be removed.
This is so patrons "can sit in greater comfort and greater distance from one another to keep each other safe", said Ms Fu.
She added that enforcement will be "very selective and pragmatic", so as not to inconvenience the large majority of vaccinated diners. Enforcement teams will go around and at certain timings, ask "certain selected" diners for their vaccination status.
"If they are not vaccinated, we would advise them, we would take down their names. If they continue to dine in, or if they continue to repeatedly dine in, (or) come back time and time again, we would then have no choice but to enforce and fine them," she said.
Inspections may also be done at selected hours. For hawker centres and coffee shops where there may be large numbers of unvaccinated seniors gathering, inspections may be done more frequently.
"What we're trying to do is really to discourage unvaccinated seniors from mingling in the community spaces, this is really to protect them from serious illness," said Ms Fu.
In a Facebook video on Tuesday, co-chair of the multi-ministry task force Lawrence Wong said they are relying on coffee shop operators to see "how best they can implement the new (vaccination-differentiated) measures".
"On the Government's part, we will do spot checks. All of us must do our part, we must exercise responsibility," said Mr Wong.
ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS TO CONDUCT "SELECTIVE" CHECKS
Safe distancing enforcement officers will conduct "selective" checks of diners' COVID-19 vaccination status when new rules kick in from Wednesday.
"We seek diners' cooperation to show our enforcement officers the vaccination 'green tick' verification on the TraceTogether app," said the National Environment Agency and Singapore Food Agency in a media release.
Those who breach the vaccination-differentiated measures will be warned and have their particulars recorded, said the agencies.
"Enforcement action will be taken against repeat offenders and those who refuse to cooperate," they added.
Editor's Note: Following clarifications by the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment, this article has been updated to remove reference to the need for operators of hawker centres and coffeeshops to remind patrons as they walk in that if they are not vaccinated that they shouldn’t dine-in.