SINGAPORE — Authorities will introduce more measures where required to reduce crowding in Chinatown, and increase enforcement efforts at hot spots like food & beverage outlets to ensure compliance with COVID-19 rules, even as more establishments and individuals have been penalised for breaches.
In a statement on Friday (28 January), the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment (MSE) said that Temple Street will be closed to vehicular traffic from 12pm next Monday (31 January) till 2am on Tuesday.
In anticipation of a rise in footfall to the market and hawker centre in Chinatown Complex, the National Environment Agency (NEA) and Jalan Besar Town Council have also increased the number of safe distancing personnel deployed.
Access control with interim fencing is in place at the market, and patrons are not allowed to enter once the number of patrons reaches the stipulated allowable capacity of 300 persons. Visitors are encouraged to check on the latest safety measures on the Singapore Chinatown Facebook page before visiting the area.
Rule of 5 applies for festive period
In addition, the festive period will see agencies stepping up enforcement at hotspots including F&B outlets, markets, malls, supermarkets and parks.
Prevailing rules at F&B premises will continue to apply, including for reunion dinners and other Chinese New Year meals. Multiple table bookings for groups larger than five persons are strictly prohibited, unless the diners are from the same household. Intermingling across different tables is also forbidden.
"We strongly advise F&B operators to double-check the reservations they have already received to ensure that the bookings are in order. Lo hei should be done without any shouting of auspicious phrases, and diners should remain masked when tossing the ingredients," said MSE.
Each household may only receive up to five unique visitors per day. Individuals are encouraged to take a self-administered antigen rapid test (ART) in advance of such gatherings, particularly if there will be elderly or unvaccinated family members present.
20-day closure for F&B outlet
A 20-day closure order was issued to F&B outlet Candy K-Bar for allowing a social gathering above the permitted group size and the sale and consumption of alcohol past 10.30pm, and providing a KTV system and dart games to customers.
The customers – who were colleagues at another F&B establishment – subsequently tested positive for COVID-19 and infected at least 10 other co-workers who did not attend the gathering. Further investigations are being conducted.
Candy K-Bar is among the 56 F&B outlets and 360 individuals that have been penalised for breaching COVID curbs since the start of 2022.
Another F&B outlet, The Eastern at 497 Geylang Road, was ordered to close for 10 days earlier this month. It allowed intermingling between patrons, failed to maintain a safe distance of at least one metre between tables and groups, and failed to keep each electronic video recording for at least 28 days after the date the recording was made.
Other breaches of safe management measures (SMM) include failing to minimise interactions between staff and diners, failing to ensure that groups of patrons did not exceed the maximum permitted group size, and allowing diners to consume alcohol after 10.30pm.
11 individuals to be penalised
Last Sunday, the particulars of 19 individuals were taken for gathering in groups larger than the permitted size in parks and beaches managed by NParks.
This included a group of 11 individuals at Toa Payoh Town Park. NParks will be taking appropriate enforcement action against them. All campsites and barbecue pits in NParks-managed parks and gardens remain closed.
MSE urged Singaporeans to exercise caution amid surging infections of the Omicron COVID variant.
"Let us continue to be socially responsible and adhere to prevailing measures. This will allow everyone to enjoy the festivities safely and help Singapore ride through the Omicron wave."
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