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About 1 in 3 people not planning to dine out in current Covid-19 heightened alert phase: Poll

SINGAPORE — About a third of the respondents to a recent survey said that they were not planning to dine out during the present phase of heightened alert for Covid-19 and another third said that they were planning to do so.

Patrons at an eatery along Orchard Road on June 22, 2021.

Patrons at an eatery along Orchard Road on June 22, 2021.

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  • A recent poll found that people were not dining out as much after June 21
  • About one-third said they were planning to and another third said they had no plans to do so
  • The top reason given was fear of getting Covid-19
  • A week after people were allowed to dine out, some F&B outlets still saw lower earnings


SINGAPORE — About a third of the respondents to a recent survey said that they were not planning to dine out during the present phase of heightened alert for Covid-19 and another third said that they were planning to do so. 

This was even though the Government freed up some restrictions last week to allow people to eat out at a maximum of two people to a table.

The findings of the survey done by the National University of Singapore (NUS) Business School were released on Monday (June 28) and they showed that:

  • 34 per cent of the 227 people polled were not intending to head out for meals at eateries

  • 33 per cent had plans to do so

  • 33 per cent indicated that they had already dined out since restrictions were eased from June 21

Of the respondents who did not intend to head out for meals, more than a quarter, or 28.2 per cent, said that they were afraid of contracting the coronavirus.

Other reasons given were:

  • They were reluctant to leave their homes (20.6 per cent)

  • There were limited choices available when dining out (12.8 per cent)

  • They found food delivery and takeaway options more convenient (11.8 per cent)

Respondents could select more than one reason when doing the poll.

The survey was led by Professor Emeritus Sherri Kimes of Cornell University in the United States, who is a visiting professor at NUS Business School. It was done last Thursday with a sample representative of the Singapore population.

Dining-in at food-and-beverage (F&B) establishments, hawker centres and food courts was prohibited from May 16, with takeaways and deliveries allowed to continue.

During that period, the survey found that:

  • Nearly nine in 10 (88 per cent) of the respondents had ordered food delivery or takeaway, with 45 per cent being delivery orders

  • 46 per cent of respondents ordered delivery more frequently and 44 per cent ordered takeaway more frequently during the one-month period of heightened alert compared to last year’s two-month circuit breaker when people had to stay home and non-essential activities were halted

The survey also found that in a post-Covid-19 world, the respondents said that they would do the following more frequently compared with before the pandemic:

  • Takeaway (42 per cent)

  • Delivery (38 per cent)

  • Dining out (29 per cent)


When TODAY checked with four F&B groups and eateries, they reported that they continued to see significantly lower earnings a week after the restrictions were lifted on June 21.

At least two said that revenues were down by up to 60 per cent compared with before mid-May.

Mr Alvin Gho, co-founder of RVLT in Clarke Quay, said that the wine bar attracts bigger groups who like to hang out, chit-chat and talk to strangers.

So he has had bigger groups of customers cancel their bookings due to the two-person limit. Earnings over the past week have dipped by about 40 to 60 per cent.

Mr Khader Basha Ghouse Basha, general manager of British Indian Curry Hut at Holland Village, said that his regular customers have been returning but the two-person limit is a strain.

Given that there has been an almost 40 to 45 per cent drop in business since mid-May, he does not foresee that business will improve as long as the current cap on diners remains.

“Before the limit, the restaurant could sit about 60 people, but now it’s about 38 to 40 people,” Mr Khader said, adding that half of the tables at his eatery have been empty in the past week.

Mr Vijay Pillai, chief executive officer of Caerus Holding, similarly said that the two-person-a-table limit has been a deterrent for people to leave home and dine out.

There are nine outlets under Caerus Holding and it manages the Lady M cake boutiques in Singapore.

“Sales are lower than what we have anticipated, but we do see a slow gradual recovery,” he added.

Mr Andrew Tjioe, chief executive officer of Tung Lok Group, which has 26 restaurants, said that there was an increase in sales at some of the outlets compared to during the heightened alert last month, but it was “incremental”.

He was “quite happy”, though, to see that people were doing their part to control disease spread. “They are not rushing to dine out this time round.” 

Ms Diana Sim, 61, was one of those who did not feel like eating out, mainly because some people were still not taking proper precautions. 

“Sometimes, diners don’t put their masks back on after eating,” the housewife told TODAY, adding that she has noticed diners intermingling or not keeping a safe distance.

On the other hand, Mr Bryan Lee, a 25-year-old student, was not deterred. “With the safe distancing measures, I am certain that we are maintaining a level of caution,” he said.


Elsewhere, some retailers also said that they observed little to no difference in business one week after people were allowed to dine out.

Ms Evangeline Seah, owner of FE The Nail Lounge, said that business at the nail salon in Raffles City Shopping Centre has been the same since June 21 with no increase. She does not see many walk-in customers because clients would usually book appointments in advance, she added.

Spectacle Hut, an eyewear chain that has 39 branches, said that it has not noticed a jump in walk-in customers. 

“There hasn’t been much increase in traffic since dining-in resumed, perhaps only about 5 per cent to 10 per cent,” it said.

Related topics

Covid-19 coronavirus F&B dining food delivery takeaway NUS survey

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