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Enhanced COVID-19 safe management measures for nightlife establishments pivoting to F&B operations

Enhanced COVID-19 safe management measures for nightlife establishments pivoting to F&B operations

A COVID-19 safe distancing ambassador on the job in Singapore. (Photo: STB)

SINGAPORE: Singapore is stepping up enforcement of COVID-19 safe management measures to ensure compliance by nightlife operators who have pivoted to the food and beverage industry.

This is because breaches by such establishments are "flagrant" and carry much higher public health risks, said the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment (MSE) on Friday (May 14).

With effect from May, the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) will revoke the food licences of non-compliant former nightlife operators in the F&B industry who commit egregious breaches of safe management measures.

Establishments that lose their food licence must cease operations with immediate effect until the nightlife sector is allowed to reopen, or until their reapplication for a new food licence is approved, said MSE.

Nightlife operators that intend to operate F&B establishments must file a "change of use" application, with immediate effect, with the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) to obtain planning permission to convert their premises.

They must submit a proposed business concept or operational details, a layout plan showing usage of the premises and plans to remove any "bar-related signages or paraphernalia" for URA's assessment.

Nightlife operators who received URA's earlier endorsement to temporarily pivot to F&B operations must now apply for change of use by the end of the one-year validity of these endorsements, said MSE.

READ: No to KTV, yes to CCTV: Bars reopen as part of COVID-19 nightlife pilot

Nightlife establishments can continue to apply for a grant of up to S$50,000 from Enterprise Singapore to defray qualifying costs incurred during the change of use process. The support is available until Sep 30.

MSE added that government agencies will also take other enforcement measures within their regulatory ambit, such as revoking the public entertainment licence or liquor licence.

MORE THAN 400 NIGHTLIFE OPERATORS PIVOTED

Nightlife establishments including bars, clubs, discos and karaoke lounges have not been allowed to operate in their original form since March last year, but have been able to temporarily pivot to F&B businesses since October.

To date, 406 nightlife operators have received SFA's food shop or snack counter licence and temporarily pivoted to F&B operations, said MSE.

However, some establishments continue to operate nightlife activities that are currently prohibited and flagrantly flout safe management measures in the process, said MSE.

These breaches include failing to prevent large groups of patrons from intermingling, employing hostesses and allowing live entertainment and games.

READ: 'Whatever it takes' - Nightlife venues keen on reopening grapple with strict COVID-19 rules

The vast majority of repeated egregious breaches have been committed by recently pivoted nightlife establishments, said MSE.

The ministry listed nine of such nightlife establishments that have been caught at least twice for egregious breaches: MZS Family Karaoke, Club Peaches, Club One Min, Club Mao by Barcode, The Drinks Emporium, Hooha Restaurant & Cafe, Cheers Up, Alive @ Sg Pub and Destiny Japanese KTV.

Safe management measures must be strictly adhered to, "otherwise we could well face a resurgence of community transmission which will disrupt our lives and livelihoods", said MSE.

"We have seen how nightlife activities in other countries have led to super spreader events. We must all do our part to prevent this from occurring in Singapore," the ministry added.

READ: Group sizes down from 5 to 2, dining-in suspended as Singapore tightens COVID-19 measures

Singapore on Friday announced tighter measures to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus in the community, including a reduction of the limit on group sizes from five to two people.

Dining-in at F&B establishments will also not be allowed under the new measures, which will be in place from May 16 through Jun 13.

READ: Several students who tested positive for COVID-19 linked to private tutor at tuition centre: MOH

READ: Additional COVID-19 antigen rapid testing to be rolled out for people with symptoms

MORE F&B OUTLETS CLOSED, FINED FOR BREACHES

Government agencies have ordered 10 F&B outlets to close over breaches of safe management measures, said MSE.

Six of them are nightlife operators which have pivoted to F&B operations.

They include Destiny Japanese KTV at Cuppage Plaza, which failed to minimise interaction between staff and customers on May 7. As the establishment is a repeat offender, it has been ordered to close for 30 days from May 8.

MZS Family Karaoke at Ming Arcade allowed customers to consume alcohol after 10.30pm on May 8. As a repeat offender, it has been ordered to close for 20 days from May 9.

Three more establishments were ordered to close for 10 days each.

Club Illusion and English Football Museum at River Valley Road allowed intermingling between groups of customers and gatherings of more than eight people on Apr 23. Club Illusion will be temporarily closed from May 6 while English Football Museum will temporarily suspend operations from May 8.

Haru at Central Mall allowed gatherings of more than eight people on May 7. URA has ordered it to temporarily close from May 9.

One 4 D'Road Bar at Far East Shopping Centre allowed entry to freelance hostesses who were not employees of the bar, failed to minimise interaction between these hostesses and customers, and screened music videos to customers on May 8. STB has ordered it to temporarily close from May 9.

COMMENTARY: We will miss Singapore's nightlife scene sorely if it dies

The remaining four F&B establishments include The Malayan Council at Bussorah Street, which failed to ensure 1m safe distancing between seated customers on May 2. This is the restaurant's third offence and it has been ordered to close for 10 days from May 8.

Jag's @ Siglap on East Coast Road served alcohol to customers after 10.30pm on May 7. URA has ordered it to close for 10 days from May 13.

Siem Reap Indochine on Lorong Mambong allowed gatherings of more than five people on May 8, and will close for 10 days from May 13.

New Udon Thai Food failed to ensure 1m safe distancing between different groups of diners on Apr 9. This is the restaurant's third offence and Enterprise Singapore has ordered the restaurant to close for 10 days from May 7.

Another 17 F&B outlets were fined S$1,000 each for breaches including seating groups of customers less than 1m apart, not ensuring queuing customers were more than 1m apart, playing videos for customers and providing dice games.

Three more F&B outlets were fined S$2,000 each for repeated offences of seating groups of customers less than 1m apart, playing videos for customers, providing dice games and poker cards, and providing self-service buffet.

The full list of F&B outlets that have been fined is as follows:

(List: MSE)

THIRTY PEOPLE FINED AT PARKS AND BEACHES

Thirty people have been fined for breaching safe management measures at parks and beaches managed by the National Parks Board (NParks) on May 8, including gathering in groups of more than five.

All water play areas and water recreational facilities in NParks-managed parks and gardens are closed until May 30 in line with tightened measures to minimise interactions in the community, said MSE.

NParks will also temporarily close access to some parks, sections of beaches and facilities such as shelters and car parks when these areas get too crowded, added the ministry.

Referring to an incident last week in which two men from a group of six diners at Lau Pa Sat used abusive language against safe distancing enforcement officers and a safe distancing ambassador, MSE said that the Government takes a serious view of abuse of safe distancing personnel and will take firm action.

"(Safe distancing enforcement officers and safe distancing ambassadors) have been working hard to keep our community safe. They are performing an important duty," said the ministry.

"We urge members of the public to continue to cooperate with them and comply with the instructions of personnel deployed for COVID-19-related duties."

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Source: CNA/dv

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