COVID rules: Firm fined after Encik Tan outlet failed to space 1m between chairs

Encik Tan at 313@somerset. (SCREENGRAB: YouTube)
Encik Tan at 313@somerset. (SCREENGRAB: YouTube)

SINGAPORE — Fei Siong Food Management was fined $4,000 on Tuesday (11 January) after its Encik Tan outlet at 313@somerset was found to have breached safe management measures by having its chairs placed too close together.

The back of the chairs for some customers were less than one metre from each other, with three instances specified in court documents.

Fei Siong pleaded guilty to a single count of breaching safe distancing rules for seating.

On 14 May last year, Singapore Tourism Board enforcement officers checked Encik Tan’s premises at 313@somerset in Orchard when they observed that some customers’ chairs were less than one metre away from other chairs. During the five minutes of their observation, they did not see any attempt by the employees to ensure compliance with COVID-19 rules.

The enforcement officers measured the distance between the back of the chairs and found that in three instances, the distances measured were 44cm, 79cm and 88cm.

Fei Siong contravened the order at its other outlets on eight previous occasions between April 2020 and April 2021. The food and beverage outlets involved are Let's Eat, Foodshop, Nam Kee Pau, Malaysia Chiak, Boleh Boleh, Malaysia Boleh, and the Encik Tan outlets at Waterway Point and Suntec City.

Fei Siong was given composition fines totalling $11,000 for the breaches, with the prosecution citing them as an aggravating factor. Deputy Public Prosecutor Norman Yew sought a $5,000 fine.

Fei Siong’s lawyer Shaun Lew said that Fei Siong had developed a safe management plan for over 150 of its outlets, and this included the one metre distance requirement with demarcations on the floor. Managers would also go to the outlets to ensure compliance.

The breaches occurred during dinner time on a busy Friday and due to manpower limitations, Fei Siong fell short of the requirements. The lawyer added that the restaurant had a casual and laidback atmosphere with its chairs not fixed to the floors. The outlet was also dependent on customers not moving their chairs excessively while dining in.

The lawyer asked for a fine of not more than $2,500.

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