Written reply to Parliamentary Question on Safe Management Measures at Food & Beverage Outlets by Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment
Written Reply by Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment, to Parliamentary Question on Safe Management Measures at Food & Beverage Outlets, on 6 October 2020
Mr Darryl David: To ask the Minister for Sustainability and the Environment what support is available for small and independent food and beverage outlets attempting to strictly enforce safe management measures but are also fearful about offending errant diners and worried about losing future business given that action will be taken against such businesses, even for first-time offenders.
With the commencement of Phase 2 of Singapore’s reopening on 19 June 2020, many economic activities have resumed, including dine-in services at Food and Beverages (F&B) establishments. However, dining in F&B establishments involves considerable public health risks because it typically entails gathering in enclosed spaces, without masks on, and for a prolonged duration. Hence, we need to ensure that F&B establishments operate in a way that is safe for their customers and staff. Patrons should also cooperate by keeping to groups of no more than five, keep masks on unless when eating or drinking, and to maintain at least one metre safe distancing from other groups.
To help F&B establishments provide a safe environment, public agencies have also issued joint advisories on the measures specific to F&B establishments and to guide them on the steps they need to take to keep patrons and their staff safe. These include guidelines on crowd management, table and seating arrangement, contact tracing, health checks, cleanliness and hygiene practices. Our Safe Distancing Ambassadors and Enforcement Officers have also been advising the F&B establishments and the patrons on the application of safe management measures. It is encouraging to see that some F&B operators have proactively implemented additional measures on their own, such as having last orders for alcoholic drinks at 9.30pm, reminding patrons to finish their drinks before 10.30pm, and rolling down the shutter and switching off the lights at 10.30pm. We are heartened that the majority of F&B operators, including many small and independent operators, have properly implemented the SMMs.
However, a minority of the F&B operators have continued to breach SMMs, such as allowing the sale and consumption of alcohol after 10.30pm and allowing bookings and gatherings in groups of more than five. Several operators have even attempted to conceal their infringement by impeding our enforcement officers in their inspections or concealing their sale of alcohol. Over the past few weeks, agencies have stepped up enforcement checks on F&B establishments – out of 846 establishments inspected as at 5 October, 16 have been required to close for 10 days while another 46 have been issued fines for failing to observe SMMs.
Patrons also bear their share of the responsibility to achieve a safe environment in F&B establishments and most are cooperative. But some patrons refuse to comply with SMMs or cooperate with F&B operators. Such behavior not only endanger themselves but other patrons and staff of the F&B establishment. Agencies will not hesitate to take enforcement action against such irresponsible patrons who flout SMMs, endangering themselves and others. As part of the stepped up enforcement checks, fines were issued to 53 F&B patrons as at 5 October for failing to observe SMMs. In taking enforcement actions, agencies will also take into account whether the operator has taken effort to advise or deter the patron on non-compliance of SMMs.
We are at a critical stage in our fight against COVID-19. To ensure that our caseload remains low and effectively contain the spread of the virus, everyone must play their part and exercise social responsibility.