SINGAPORE: A wedding organiser and event venue Orange Ballroom were charged in court on Wednesday (Nov 10) with breaching COVID-19 regulations over a wedding event that had 235 guests, more than double the 100 people allowed at the time.
This is the first such charging in relation to COVID-19 breaches of safe management measures for marriage solemnisations and wedding receptions.
Wedding organiser Osman Arrifin, 59, was given two charges of contravening COVID-19 regulations over a wedding that took place from 10.30am to 6pm on Jan 30 this year.
He allegedly allowed three wedding receptions with a total of 235 attendees to be held in that time at The Orange Ballroom, when the maximum permissible group size was 100.
Osman is also accused of allowing 18 guests to attend more than one wedding reception that day. He was supposed to ensure that wedding guests attended the event only at an allocated timing and not earlier or later.
He also doubled as the representative for Orange Ballroom, located at 845 Geylang Road, and received a single charge on behalf on the company for failing to comply with restrictions specified in the safe management measures for marriage solemnisations and wedding receptions.
The company is accused of permitting 235 guests to attend three wedding receptions, with 62, 73 and 60 attendees at each reception when the cap was 50 people per reception, and of allowing 18 guests to attend multiple receptions instead of just one.
Osman told the court that both he and the company intend to plead guilty. When asked if they would be engaging lawyers, he said they would not, "because of the financial status of the company".
"As you know, last year, just because of the pandemic, we are not allowed to operate and we have an outstanding five months' rental with SLA (Singapore Land Authority) that is accumulative of over S$300,000, and now we are requesting for instalment payments," he said.
He added that the company refunded more than S$200,000 to affected wedding couples during a period when weddings could not be held last year, and that the ballroom incurred losses in the thousands when they had to shift nine affected clients to other venues during a two-week suspension imposed on the ballroom by SLA.
Osman and the company will plead guilty in December.
The Singapore Land Authority said in an earlier statement that the Government takes a serious view of such violations. Those who fail to comply with safe management measures can be jailed for up to six months and fined up to S$10,000 for the first offence, and face double the jail time and fine for repeat offences.