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Covid-19 rules: Some F&B outlets say they will check NRICs of diners to verify if they are from same household

SINGAPORE — With more people from the same household permitted to dine out from Wednesday (Nov 10), some restaurants here said that they will check the National Registration Identity Cards (NRICs) of such customers, who are allowed to sit together at a table for up to five. For children under the age of 15 who do not have NRICs or similar identification cards, restaurants will exercise discretion and permit them to do so on the basis of trust.

Covid-19 rules: Some F&B outlets say they will check NRICs of diners to verify if they are from same household

Five fully vaccinated members of the same household are allowed eat together at food-and-beverage establishments. The rule does not apply to coffee shops or hawker centres.

  • Some F&B outlets are saying they will check the NRICs of diners to verify if they are from the same household
  • People from the same household may dine out together from Nov 10
  • Foreigners who are unable to prove they are from the same household must dine in pairs, the eateries said
  • Some of the outlets have been getting calls to change bookings, others are extending hours or having promotions 

 

SINGAPORE — With more people from the same household permitted to dine out from Wednesday (Nov 10), some restaurants here said that they will check the National Registration Identity Cards (NRICs) of such customers, who are allowed to sit together at a table for up to five.

For children under the age of 15 who do not have NRICs or similar identification cards, restaurants will exercise discretion and permit them to do so on the basis of trust.

In the case of foreign patrons who do not have proof of their residential address, they must continue to dine in pairs, eateries who spoke to TODAY said.

Out of the six eateries interviewed, only one said that it did not plan to verify if diners are from the same household.

The Providore cafe, which has six outlets, said that diners from the same household are mainly families and will be easy to identify since they are from different age brackets.

On Monday, the Government announced that it will relax dining rules slightly from Wednesday to allow up to five fully vaccinated members of the same household to eat together at food-and-beverage (F&B) establishments. The rule does not apply to coffee shops or hawker centres.

Speaking at a press conference on Monday, Mr Lawrence Wong, co-chair of the national task force against Covid-19, said that F&B establishments will have to check the status of diners before they are seated and this “will be enforced strictly”.

Mr Wong, who is also the Finance Minister, said: “Enforcement officers will do their checks and they will take firm action against errant individuals as well as F&B outlets that fail to do the necessary checks.”

To a question on how restaurants will verify the addresses of children if they have no identification cards, Mr Wong said that the Government will take a “practical approach” as adults with children are very likely from the same household.

PLAYING IT SAFE

Five eateries told TODAY that they would conduct checks via patrons’ NRICs and would also accept the digital version of the NRIC on mobile application Singpass. 

Mrs Christina Keilthy, co-owner of the Godmama Peranakan restaurant at Funan mall, said that the restaurant will not take bookings or walk-in customers if they do not show their NRICs to verify their household address.

Guests caught contravening the rules could lead to the restaurant having to close temporarily for business, she added.

Mr Marcus Foo, chief executive officer of PPP Coffee — a company that manages Chye Seng Huat Hardware cafe in the Jalan Besar area and PPP Coffee Cafe in Funan mall — said that a staff member will be stationed at the entrance of the cafes to check and verify the addresses of patrons.

However, in the case of young children, “it would be safe to assume they are from the same household”, Mr Foo said.

Mr Patrick Fiat, general manager of Royal Plaza on Scotts, said that the hotel’s buffet restaurant, Carousel, will not require extra manpower to conduct checks because it is operating at a reduced capacity of about 30 per cent due to safe distancing regulations.

At Providore, its representative said that it will not check if patrons are from the same household because it trusts its customers “to do the right thing and our team to exercise good judgement”.

“In our experience so far, the vast majority of our customers respect and adhere to the restrictions in place.”

Its employees may request confirmation of the residential addresses of diners through their NRICs if there is a need to. Safe distancing ambassadors may also follow up with customers directly if there are questions about their household status, Providore said.

Foreigners, on the other hand, will have to dine in pairs if they are unable to prove that they are from the same household, the eateries said.

Mr Sam Lim, director of operations at PizzaExpress, said that it will ask foreigners holding work permits to show proof of their residence “just to be safe”.

“We don’t want the authorities to be clamping down on us.”

Similarly, Mr James Ang, co-owner of Enjoy Eating House and Bar in Jalan Besar, said that foreigners here on work permits will have to show proof of being from the same household, such as lease agreements with their landlord.

However, he does not expect such checks to be a common occurrence given that most of his customers are Singapore residents.

LEGAL FOR BUSINESSES TO CHECK NRIC

Three lawyers told TODAY that it is legal for business owners to check the NRICs to verify if diners are from the same household — so long as they do not note down, reproduce or take a snapshot of the NRIC.

Mr Jeffrey Lim, a lawyer at Joyce A Tan and Partners, said that under the Personal Data Protection Act, it is lawful for F&B establishments to do so if there is a need to verify the identity of the diners for important reasons to a high degree of fidelity.

“Preserving the health and safety of fellow diners and staff is a perfectly good example of it being important enough to be very sure who you are looking at, in order to prevent the risk of infection,” he said.

The Restaurant Association of Singapore said that it is discussing with government agencies how best to execute the new rules.

Mr Andrew Kwan, the association’s president, said: “At the end of the day, we are keen to play an even more active role with respect to self-regulation within the F&B community.

“We can help call out bad hats and be more targeted in our approach as we know the (F&B) ecosystem,” he added.

Trade agency Enterprise Singapore told TODAY that it will issue an advisory to F&B operators on how to keep to the new regulations.

CHANGES TO BOOKINGS, OPENING HOURS 

As restaurants gear up to welcome more patrons, at least one said that it has been getting enquiries and the rest said that they were ramping up promotional efforts to attract more customers.

Carousel at Royal Plaza on Scotts said that the restaurant has received more than 100 queries from diners to change their reservations for next week from two to five guests.

Mr Fiat, the hotel’s general manager, said that these are mostly patrons who are planning to celebrate special occasions such as birthdays and anniversaries.

Mr Foo of PPP Coffee said that with the latest change in rule, it will introduce more family and group offerings of meals, desserts and bar snacks, which are suitable for sharing.

It has also extended its opening hours to cater to increased traffic at night.

There may be some reprieve for F&B businesses with the latest change in Covid-19 rules, but The Providore cafe said that this will still not be enough to offset the negative impact on earnings due to the restrictions over the last six months.

Related topics

Covid-19 coronavirus dining F&B NRIC vaccination

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