Some restaurants to call diners to confirm they are from same household as Covid-19 dining curbs ease

SINGAPORE – Shortly after it was announced that households can dine out in groups of up to five at restaurants from Wednesday (Nov 10), Ms Goh Wen Tyng immediately made a booking for a meal at Keria Japanese Restaurant in Cuppage Plaza with her family.

The 44-year-old manager will finally dine out with her husband and two daughters – aged nine and 14.

They have not eaten out as a family since the dine-in restriction of up to two people was reimposed in September, except for one meal at a hawker centre.

She said: “We felt it was quite pointless to dine separately, so we have just been ordering takeaway or cooking at home.

“The restaurant we picked for Saturday was somewhere we had to put on hold because of the restrictions.”

The new adjustment of measures is not extended to hawker centres and coffee shops as they are unable to carry out comprehensive checks on all diners.

The maximum dine-in group size for those not from the same household remains at two.

Since the measures were announced by the Covid-19 multi-ministry task force on Monday (Nov 8), some restaurants have already seen an uptick in bookings.

These include the one-Michelin-starred Buona Terra in Scotts Road, Blue Lotus Chinese Eating House in Sentosa, Restaurant Gaig in Stanley Street and Pura Brasa in Tanjong Pagar.

The phone has been ringing off the hook for Italian restaurant Griglia in Craig Road, while its sister concept Zafferano at the Ocean Financial Centre has received many bookings online for groups of up to five people.

Protocols are in place to stick to the rules, said Mr Vadim Korob, managing director of Food Concepts Group, which runs both restaurants.

Upon receiving reservations of three to five people, restaurant staff will call diners to confirm that they are from the same household, and remind them to bring their identification cards. This step will be repeated on the same day of the meal.

On having to enforce the measures, he added: “We already had a few groups – who are not from the same household – trying to make bookings and pretending they did not understand the rules.”

Other business owners expressed the same concern over verifying the addresses of household members, especially of foreign diners.

Households allowed to eat out in groups of up to 5

So far, staff at LeVeL33 restaurant at the Marina Bay Financial Centre have had to explain to families coming from overseas countries via the Vaccinated Travel Lanes that they have to dine at separate tables.

The restaurant’s founding managing director, Dr Martin Bem, called it a “strange situation” to be in.

He added that while LeVeL33 has been inundated with calls, its sister venue Erwin’s Gastrobar – which usually caters to the office crowd – has yet to receive any inquiries as most people are still working from home.

The recently launched pop-up Minion Cafe at Clarke Quay has been seeing changes to existing reservations, as well as new bookings. It runs till Jan 2 next year.

Ms Audrey Ng, marketing manager of 1-Group, which runs the cafe, said: “We have a few days to ensure that our supply volume is at full capacity and that our operations team is equipped with new seating plans for diners to visit the cafe safely.”

Pop-up Minion Cafe at Clarke Quay has been seeing changes to existing reservations, as well as new bookings. PHOTO: MINION CAFE

The relaxation of measures is also a relief for Chinese restaurants, such as the National Gallery Singapore’s Yan, where many dishes are more suited for communal dining.

However, general manager Shek Chi Kuen has also had to reject some bookings from family groups whose members do not stay together.

While restaurants under the Crystal Jade Group have been getting phone calls, they have not translated into a surge in bookings, said Ms Cynthia Yee, the group’s general manager.

She said: “We foresee many families, especially those with elderly folk, taking a more careful stance to avoid dining in for a bit longer, but we remain optimistic.”

Its restaurants will also be reconfigured to accommodate families of five, and staff will be briefed to ensure measures are in place.

Others are relieved over the resumption of music from Wednesday (Nov 10), and – with Christmas round the corner – hope for a further relaxation of measures that do not limit dining to household members.

Restaurant Gaig director Nuria Gibert said: “We can breathe a little better now. It gives us faith that things are getting better. The music is a little reward for us.

“Finally, we are starting to see the end of the tunnel for all we had to go through in the past two years.”


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