COVID-19: Gemma Steakhouse ordered to suspend operations over Halloween dinner involving 75 people
SINGAPORE: Gemma Steakhouse at National Gallery has been ordered to suspend operations for 20 days, after COVID-19 rules were breached during a private Halloween dinner attended by about 75 people, said the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment (MSE) on Friday (Dec 4).
The Singapore Food Agency (SFA) had received feedback on the Oct 31 dinner, and began investigating Gemma Steakhouse for potential breaches of safe management measures.
Gemma Steakhouse was found to have worked with a private members’ club to organise the Halloween dinner, which was attended by about 75 diners comprising both members of the club and their guests.
MSE did not indicate the name of the private members' club. CNA has contacted the ministry for further details.
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"Although the diners were seated at tables of up to five, CCTV footage showed that they intermingled on multiple occasions, and did not wear their masks even when they were not eating/drinking," said MSE.
"The footage also showed that the restaurant staff did not take reasonable steps to prevent the intermingling on their premises."
Under COVID-19 safety measures, social gatherings of groups of more than five outside an individual’s residence are prohibited.
Food and beverage outlets are also prohibited from accepting bookings from groups of larger than five, even if such groups are split across multiple tables. Intermingling between groups is also prohibited.
For accepting a large group booking for this dinner and for failing to take reasonable steps to prevent multiple instances of intermingling among the diners in the group, SFA ordered Gemma Steakhouse's licensee, Il Lido, to close the restaurant from Dec 3 to Dec 22, inclusive of both dates.
Investigations are continuing in respect of possible breaches by various parties, said MSE.
"The Government holds a serious view of flagrant breaches of safe management measure. Dining out is an activity that involves considerable risks. It entails gathering in enclosed spaces, without masks on, and for a prolonged duration," said the ministry.
"While the majority have been adhering to the measures, it is regrettable that there remains a minority which continue to breach safe management measure. We will not hesitate to take strong enforcement action against operators and individuals who treat safe management measure with flagrant disregard."
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Gemma Steakhouse, which was opened on Oct 21, said on its Facebook page on Friday that it is sorry for "disappointing" its supporters.
"We are sorry for disappointing our supporters and guests, especially for those whose reservations have been affected, but we respect the decision of our authorities," it said.
"Please be assured that we will continue to move forward by taking the next weeks to elevate our safe management measures."
MSE cautioned that the public "must not be complacent", saying that COVID-19 remains a grave threat and that a resurgence of infections could have devastating effects on lives and livelihoods.
"We urge all members of the public to be socially responsible and observe the safe management measure. Our collective efforts will determine if we successfully make the transition to Phase 3, as we adapt to a new normal," said MSE.
NATIONAL GALLERY ISSUED WARNING LETTER TO IL LIDO
National Gallery Singapore said in a separate statement that it reached out to Gemma Steakhouse "immediately and reinforced our policy on strictly following the gazetted SMMs for F&B establishments" when notified by the authorities of the incident.
The Gallery said it also facilitated SFA’s investigation which subsequently revealed that the restaurant, which is located in the City Hall Wing on the fifth floor, did not ensure that safe management measures were adhered to, despite being informed by the Gallery.
It added that it will work closely with SFA on the required follow up, and has also issued an official warning letter to Il Lido Group on the breach of safe management measures.
The Gallery also informed Il Lido that it will not hesitate to take firmer action should there be further breaches.
It stressed that it takes the safety of all visitors, tenants and colleagues seriously and has “closely adhered to Government safety regulations throughout the COVID-19 pandemic period”.
“The Gallery has consistently enforced mandated safe management measures at our entrances and around the building in strict accordance with our protocols. We have also worked with all our tenants to ensure that all SMMs are clearly understood and that they undertake to adhere to them at all times,” it added.