After almost three months of being confined at home, Singapore citizens were understandably very eager to head out and regain a sense of normalcy.
With social distancing measures in place, commercial establishments had to limit the number of people in stores. However, long lines were still formed outside of mall and shop entrances.
Crowds also continued to form along the streets, on public transport, and outside shops.
These long queues made it very difficult to maintain safe distancing of at least 1 metre apart.
On June 19, the first day of Phase 2, members of the public flocked to Orchard Road and congregated at popular F&B outlets in Changi Village, Simpang Bedok, and Upper Thomson Road.
The same day, several fights also broke out in an explosive mixture of alcohol and overcrowding. Three men were arrested at a Bukit Batok coffee shop, and another two were arrested at Holland Village.
Restaurants Can’t Disperse Crowds
The formation of large crowds along the streets of Holland Village led to heavy penalties imposed by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) on an adjacent restaurant, British India Curry Hut.
Its general manager Khader Basha claims that the store had only taken reservations that night, and complied with safety guidelines.
“The people who are standing on the street, who are not wearing a mask and smoking, we can’t go and control them,” he said.
Holland Village’s outdoor refreshment area has since been closed, drawing criticism from restaurant owners who complained that their business earnings had dropped by as much as 80%.
The Ministry of Manpower has made it clear that businesses should ensure a spacing of at least 1 metre apart for their customers as it is “reasonably practical” to prevent overcrowding.
But how would one define “reasonably practical”?
It’s clear to see that restaurants and other service-oriented businesses are not inherently equipped with the ability to manage crowds