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On average 650 diners a day told to clear tables in first 10 days of enforcement: Grace Fu

SINGAPORE — Enforcement officers approached an average of about 650 diners a day to ask them to clear their tables between Sept 1 and 10. These were the first 10 days following a three-month advisory period when the authorities began issuing fines and warnings to people who fail to return their trays after their meals at hawker centres.

On average 650 diners a day told to clear tables in first 10 days of enforcement: Grace Fu
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SINGAPORE — Enforcement officers approached an average of about 650 diners a day to ask them to clear their tables between Sept 1 and 10. These were the first 10 days following a three-month advisory period when the authorities began issuing fines and warnings to people who fail to return their trays after their meals at hawker centres.

No one was fined yet because the penalty pertains to second and subsequent offenders, but the National Environment Agency (NEA) had taken down the particulars of one diner who ignored advice to clear his table and will be issuing him a warning letter to mark his first offence.

The rest had heeded the enforcement officers’ instructions.

Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment, revealed this in a written parliamentary reply to an oral question by Ms Yeo Wan Ling on Monday (Sept 13). The question by Ms Yeo, Member of Parliament for Pasir Ris-Punggol Group Representation Constituency, was not answered during the day's parliamentary sitting.

Ms Fu said: "For diners who do not clear their dirty trays, crockery, and litter, enforcement officers will first advise them to do so.

"Diners who refuse to heed officers’ advice will have their particulars taken down and issued written warnings if it is their first offence. Only second and subsequent offenders will be issued fines or be sent to court."

Ms Yeo had also asked how many patrons at eating places that serve zi char (stir-fried dishes) or steamboat meals were fined, since there had been criticism that it would be difficult for people to clear their tables after having zi char dishes when there are a large number of plates, or having mookata meals that involve hot barbecue pans and steamboats.

Some TODAY readers have also wondered how patrons will return crockery used for such meals.

Ms Yeo also asked for examples of situations where enforcers have taken “pragmatic approaches” for stalls with dedicated service staff members who serve food and clear tables.

In response, Ms Fu said that the stallholders of zi char stalls that use specialised, bulky crockery will have their stall assistants, who serve the food to the tables, or the cleaners to assist in collecting bulky crockery after diners finish their meals.

However, diners will need to clear the rest of the dirty crockery and table litter. “We have observed that most diners have been able to do so,” Ms Fu said.

She did not state if the man whose particulars were taken down was eating zi char or steamboat.

Ms Fu also said that NEA will be installing 150 new racks for the return of tray and crockery at hawker centres, on top of the 900 existing racks, to make it more convenient for diners to return their dirty crockery and trays.

The agency will also be progressively introducing 300 trolleys to hold trays and crockery that can be easily deployed at convenient locations within easy walking distance of diners.

The authorities had announced on Aug 30 that enforcement for the rule requiring diners to clear used crockery and table litter at coffee shops and food courts will start in January next year after an advisory period from Nov 1 to Dec 31.

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tray return hawker centre coffee shop food court NEA Grace Fu

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