$9k fine for restaurant owner who allowed 10 people to sit together behind closed doors

SINGAPORE – Amid the Covid-19 outbreak, a restaurant owner unlawfully supplied alcoholic drinks and allowed 10 people to sit at the same table in the wee hours last September.

At least six other people were sitting together at another table in the restaurant, which had its shutters closed, the court heard.

A maximum of five people were allowed to gather at the time.

Chinese national Sun Wenqian, now 39, was fined $9,000 on Thursday (July 15) after he admitted to supplying alcoholic drinks at the Sims Avenue restaurant, even though he was not licensed to do so.

The Singapore permanent resident also admitted to an offence under the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) Act.

Around 11.45pm on Sept 19 last year, an unknown man called the police stating that there were many people inside the Mala Jiang Hu restaurant and they were not practising social distancing.

Senior Staff Sergeant Loi Jun Fengand two of his colleagues arrived at the eatery at around 2.15am the next day and found its shutters closed.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Joshua Phang said: “Loi and the accompanying officers then entered the restaurant to conduct a check and found two rooms within the restaurant with patrons inside, eating and drinking.

“The first room contained at least six patrons sitting together at a table and having a meal. The second room contained 10 patrons sitting together at a round table and having a meal, with four bottles of Heineken beer, and several glasses of beer, on the table.”

The DPP said that Sun had instructed staff members to sell alcoholic drinks to customers even though he did not have the necessary licence.

On Thursday, the prosecutor urged the court to sentence him to a fine of $10,000, stressing that the breaches were concealed and were difficult to detect.

DPP Phang said: “Despite being the restaurant owner and bearing the responsibility to prevent such breaches, the accused failed to ensure that no more than five guests would gather at one time in each room.”

First-time offenders who breach laws under the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) Act can be jailed for up to six months and fined up to $10,000.

Repeat offenders can be jailed for up to a year and fined up to $20,000.