Skip to main content

Advertisement

Advertisement

Al fresco restaurants in CBD area badly hit by haze as people avoid outdoors

SINGAPORE — Al fresco restaurants in the central business district (CBD) area have been hard hit by the haze, which entered the “unhealthy” range in recent days, causing patronage to plunge by as much as 90 per cent, according to staff.

An eatery near One Fullerton at about 5.15pm on Wednesday (Sept 18). Staff at various eateries in the area and at Boat Quay said business had been very slow since the haze got worse, even at lunchtime, which is usually crowded.

An eatery near One Fullerton at about 5.15pm on Wednesday (Sept 18). Staff at various eateries in the area and at Boat Quay said business had been very slow since the haze got worse, even at lunchtime, which is usually crowded.

Singapore

Follow us on Instagram and Tiktok, and join our Telegram channel for the latest updates.

SINGAPORE — Al fresco restaurants in the central business district (CBD) area have been hard hit by the haze, which entered the “unhealthy” range in recent days, causing patronage to plunge by as much as 90 per cent, according to staff.

For example, half-closed shutters and empty walkways could be seen around the usually bustling areas of Boat Quay and One Fullerton, even at lunchtime, with just the occasional tourist walking around. Service staff could be seen seeking refuge from the haze indoors.

TODAY spoke to staff at a dozen eateries with al fresco dining in these areas, who reported a sharp dropoff in business as southern Singapore suffered particularly hazy skies.

On Wednesday (Sept 18), the 24-hour Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) in the south ranged between 126 and 133 from noon until 7pm. A reading of 101 and higher is considered unhealthy. On Tuesday, the reading was 102 for several hours in the late afternoon and evening. The south was in the "moderate" range on Monday, but was "unhealthy" over the weekend.

BUSINESS 'TERRIBLE'

Ms Liza Sulaiman, a service staff member at the Boat Quay restaurant Sahara, which overlooks the Singapore River, told TODAY that restaurants in the area had been badly affected by the haze.

“Since the day the haze started, for lunch time it is really, really terrible. This is not just for us. Most of the restaurants have the same problem because we don’t see many customers walking around and I don’t think they want to go out, with the haze,” she said.

She said that she had observed a 90 per cent drop in the lunch crowd.

According to her, the restaurant's first diner on Wednesday came at around 3pm. “We open at 11.30am and it is empty,” she said.

Ms Liza added that her colleagues, especially those stationed outdoors, had experienced respiratory illnesses.

Mr Rafiq Khan, a waiter at Maharajah, another Boat Quay restaurant, said that business had been particularly badly affected because most of the restaurant’s tables are outdoors.

“Only 25 per cent of our tables are indoors and usually, most people want to sit outside by the river… We have tried to put out promotions like one-for-one drinks since the haze but it did not help much because the streets are empty,” he said.

Other eateries have tried other methods of drawing crowds.

RINGING A BELL TO TRY TO ATTRACT CUSTOMERS

Ms Jillaine Yeo, a service staff member of Bistro Aseana at One Fullerton, said that one employee has been tasked with waving a hand-held bell around the restaurant's premises to try to pull in customers.

She said: “After the haze came, the restaurant became very quiet. We don’t have many customers and the lines are not long. There was a 60 per cent drop in customers. We bought a bell last week to attract the customers’ attention.”

She added that more service staff will be stationed in the area to promote the bistro’s drinks in the coming weeks.

Western diner Overeasy’s assistant manager, Mr Syahrul Jaffar, told TODAY that some customers have cancelled their reservations because of the haze. The eatery has seats both inside and outside.

He said: “Reservations were cancelled and some of them explicitly said it was because of the haze. We tried to recommend them to eat indoors but they didn’t want to and cancelled their reservations. Some were willing to eat indoors.”

The scene at Boat Quay at about 5pm on Wednesday (Sept 18). Staff at eateries in the area say customers have been staying away since the haze got worse. Photo: Nuria Ling/TODAY

Ms Lily Low, sales and event manager at J-Cone Jipangyi, an ice-cream outlet at One Fullerton, said that the appeal of these eateries lies in nearby tourist attractions such as the Merlion and views of the Singapore skyline. She estimates the number of customers at their place has dived 80 per cent as a result of the haze.

“My selling point is that in the evening, there are light shows across the river. Customers will come back in the evening or make a reservation in the evening… So the haze has affected business a lot,” she said.

However, those working in the CBD generally said they were going about their daily activities as usual, although some said they try to avoid being outdoors.

Mr James Chong, 50, an analyst at a bank at the Marina Bay Financial Centre, said: “I think it is a part of life. Indonesia must have it much worse than us. It is very unfortunate but there is very little that we can do.”

Personal assistant Tiffany Feng, 55, who works at One Raffles Quay, added: “When I come to work, where it is air-conditioned, it is okay. When I go for lunch, I try to take the underpass.”

Related topics

haze business restaurant air quality

Read more of the latest in

Advertisement

Popular

Advertisement

Stay in the know. Anytime. Anywhere.

Subscribe to get daily news updates, insights and must reads delivered straight to your inbox.

By clicking subscribe, I agree for my personal data to be used to send me TODAY newsletters, promotional offers and for research and analysis.