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Mask-wearing can still be required as part of ticketing terms, but several venue operators have no plans to impose it

SINGAPORE— Even though Covid-19 regulations on mask-wearing will be relaxed further from next Monday (Aug 29), lawyers said that event organisers and venue operators can still require patrons to put on masks if it is listed under the ticketing terms and conditions.

Participants attending an event at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre at Marina Bay Sands in November 2021.

Participants attending an event at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre at Marina Bay Sands in November 2021.

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  • From Aug 29, it is optional to wear masks in most indoor settings as part of Covid-19 regulations
  • This includes at mass events such as concerts and plays 
  • Lawyers said that event organisers and venue operators can still require patrons to wear masks if it is listed under their ticketing terms and conditions
  • However, some venue operators have no plans to do so and will follow the national guidelines

SINGAPORE— Even though Covid-19 regulations on mask-wearing will be relaxed further from next Monday (Aug 29), lawyers said that event organisers and venue operators can still require patrons to put on masks if it is listed under the ticketing terms and conditions.

When contacted, some venue operators told TODAY that they will not be imposing such rules. Esplanade, The Arts House and theatre company Wild Rice said that they intend to follow the guidelines set out by the National Arts Council, which were updated on the government agency’s website on Wednesday. 

In a reply to TODAY earlier, the National Arts Council said that mask-wearing will be optional indoors for the arts and culture sector — in line with changes to the nationwide regulations.

However, audiences are encouraged to continue to exercise responsibility and caution, such as wearing masks voluntarily when in crowded places. 

This was in response to the announcement on Wednesday by the Government's Covid-19 task force, which said that mask-wearing as a protection against the spread of Covid-19 will be optional at mass events.

Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong, who is co-chair of the task force, said at the time that organisers and venue operators will "have to work out" scenarios where patrons and participants may refuse to wear face masks despite the organisers wanting them to do so.

Organisers and operators will have to see whether there is a contractual basis for people to wear masks, such as if it is stated on a concert ticket, Mr Wong added. 

Mr Mark Yeo, a senior associate at law firm Kalco Law LLC, explained that an event organiser’s relationship with its patrons may be regulated by contract and property law. 

“If the event is being held in a private property, and the event organiser has property rights to the premises, the event organiser may impose requirements on those who enter. One of these requirements may be to wear a mask,” Mr Yeo said. 

This is akin to an event being held at venues that has a dress code, where attendees cannot wear shorts or slippers and those who fail to comply may be refused entry by the owner of the premises. 

“Insisting on entering the premises without the organiser’s permission may then amount to trespass,” Mr Yeo added. 

Agreeing, criminal lawyer Sunil Sudheesan of law firm Quahe Woo & Palmer LLC said that whenever someone buys a ticket for an event, it is equivalent to the customer entering a “contract” with the venue operator or event organiser, with their terms and conditions listed on the ticket. 

“It’s like this: You (the customer) buy a ticket to get in, but you agree to abide by my rules. I may refund you if cancelled in time, and we all part as friends,” Mr Sudheesan said.  

Mr Yeo said that if a dispute arises between the two parties, it would be treated like other contractual disputes and would be adjudicated upon by the courts.

“However, to ensure that misunderstandings do not arise as to whether or not masks must be worn for particular events, event organisers who wish to impose such requirements may wish to draw special attention to these requirements at the point of sale,” he added. 

For now, though, venue operators approached by TODAY have said that they have no plans to get patrons attending events on their premises to put on masks.

The Arts House, which holds events such as the Candlelight concert series, said: “We will continue to ensure that the safe management measures we adopt for our venues, festivals and programmes are aligned with the current advisories. The safety and well-being of our artists, partners, staff and visitors remain our highest priority.”

Similarly, Singapore Sports Hub, which has lined up concerts and sports events at the Indoor Stadium and National Stadium, said that it “welcomes the easing of mask-wearing rules in most indoor settings”.

“Patrons at our live events will be able to fully share their emotions and excitement with each other, thereby enhancing their experiences at the Singapore Sports Hub.” 

However, it said that masks may still be appropriate in certain situations and it will work closely with its stakeholders “to promote the safety of all patrons”.

TODAY has also reached out to Marina Bay Sands and the Singapore Symphony Orchestra for comment. 

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Covid-19 face mask events

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