On 13 March 2020, the Ministry of Health (MOH) announced various safe distancing measures to be taken to reduce the risk of local spread of COVID-19. Such measures are to limit large numbers of people gathering in close proximity over a prolonged period of time.

Mind the gap

Enterprise Singapore (ESG), the National Environment Agency (NEA), Singapore Food Agency (SFA) and Singapore Tourism Board (STB) have drawn up safe distancing measures for F&B establishments to provide a safer dining environment for customers. This advisory would apply to F&B establishments from smaller establishments like takeaway kiosks and cafes, to larger ones such as restaurants.

Safe distancing measures for F&B establishments:

Queue management:

a. Reduce the number of people gathering outside the outlet by putting in place queue management solutions. These include taking down diner details and calling them when there are seats available.

b. Where queues are unavoidable, clearly mark queueing areas and space customers out in the queue, at a safe distance of at least one metre apart

c. Incorporate mobile ordering and payment solutions so that diners can order and make payments directly without having to wait at the cashier

d. Pre-ordering solutions are recommended for F&B kiosks to minimise physical clustering of customers waiting to pick up their orders

Table and seating management:

a. While related diners (e.g. family members, couples) can be seated together without staggered seating, ensure a distance of at least one metre between tables or different groups of diners

Communication:

a. Train service staff to provide clear communication on safe distancing measures with customers

b. Put up simple signage to clearly communicate these practices to customers

Other measures to ensure the well-being of customers:

These safe distancing measures complement the sanitation and hygiene practices recommended under the SG Clean campaign, which include temperature screening and health declaration by employees; implementation of cleanliness and hygiene practices; as well as compliance with MOH health advisories.

In addition, F&B establishments with seated diners should:

a.  Facilitate contact tracing by taking down of the contact details of at least one member in each dining group. GovTech has made available a cloud-based visitor registration system. F&B establishments are encouraged to use the system or their own equivalent apps or processes.

b. Implement temperature screening and health declaration measures for diners, as well as turn away those who are unwell

c. Improve ventilation (e.g. open windows for natural ventilation)

d. Provide hand sanitisers to frontline staff who handle cash and other devices, and who are unable to wash their hands frequently with soap and water

e. Conduct frequent disinfection of common spaces, and increase frequency of cleaning for high touch surfaces and interactive components within the establishment (e.g. turnstiles and smart kiosks)

f. Clean tables thoroughly with disinfecting agents  after each diner vacates the table. Hand sanitisers should be placed in close proximity to high touch surfaces like door handles so that staff and diners can sanitise their hands after touching these surfaces.

In implementing the abovementioned measures, employers should establish open communication channels with their staff and customers. Employers, staff and customers should be regularly reminded to exercise social responsibility by observing good personal hygiene and monitoring their health conditions. Those who are unwell, even with mild flu-like symptoms, should see a doctor and stay at home to prevent spreading illness to others.

The Government also encourages trade associations and chambers to explain these precautionary measures to their respective members. We seek your understanding on the safe distancing arrangements and your cooperation in adopting these measures.

Safe distancing measures for hawker centres:

Hawker centres are food establishments, with well-ventilated environment and a common dining area where the seating is not managed by stall holders. NEA and Town Councils are progressively marking out seats at our hawker centres to guide patrons on how to practise safe distancing. Patrons are encouraged to sit on the unmarked seats when dining in groups or sharing table with other diners at our hawker centres. Patrons are also encouraged to practise safe distancing when queueing up at food stalls.

With this arrangement, seating capacity for ‘dining-in’ could become more limited. To support our hawkers and hawker culture, NEA encourages patrons to continue making cooked food purchases by considering food deliveries or take-outs. In addition, patrons should not leave food scraps or soiled tissue paper on the tables, and should return all used crockery and trays to keep the table clean for the next patron. This will help minimise the risk of disease transmission, maintain the cleanliness of our hawker centres, and safeguard public health.

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