More safety measures at Holland Village eatery since reopening

The Holland Village eatery that was ordered to close temporarily last month for failing to ensure safe distancing among patrons has implemented more safety measures since reopening late last month.

Mr Khader Basha Ghouse Basha, general manager of British Indian Curry Hut in Lorong Mambong, told The Straits Times yesterday that the restaurant has installed a thermal scanner.

It has also installed a queue management system so that customers will not loiter along the road.

Mr Basha said: “We are also taking more reservations and (have) fewer walk-ins.”

He added that the restaurant is also growing its food delivery business. It has also gone beyond the basic measures required by the Government, such as having a smaller number of dine-in customers, he said.

Customers must use the SafeEntry check-in system via a QR code on the thermal scanner’s screen before they enter the restaurant.

The spruced-up measures come after the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) ordered the restaurant to be closed for over a week, just after it had reopened for dine-in patrons on June 19, when phase two of Singapore’s reopening started.

A photo circulating on social media then showed groups of people packed closely together in the restaurant’s outdoor sitting area, as well as crowds standing on the road outside the restaurant.

A URA spokesman said yesterday: “We are monitoring the situation closely and will review with other agencies whether the outdoor refreshment areas along Lorong Mambong can reopen and the daily road closures resume.”

URA had previously opened Lorong Mambong to traffic to stop people from gathering on the street.

Mr Olivier Dyens, who owns Italian restaurant La Nonna in Lorong Mambong, said the closure of the outdoor refreshment areas “is a big setback” for many eateries.

His restaurant does takeaways and deliveries, and also has a second floor with an indoor dining space and a large balcony, which has cushioned the loss in business somewhat.

“However, many establishments are struggling to stay in business as we depend on the outdoor refreshment areas for a good percentage of our sales… We certainly hope (the areas) can be re-instated soon and we can all concentrate on our business with all the safety measures in place,” said Mr Dyens.

He added that the establishments in Lorong Mambong and Lorong Liput have come up with additional guidelines, such as closing their outlets by 10.30pm, and refraining from holding live music performances or having TV screenings.

This is on top of the usual measures such as the use of SafeEntry, temperature screenings and controlling group sizes.

Regulars told ST last Saturday evening that the safe distancing measures have improved their dining experience at Holland Village since the start of phase two.

Private tutor Tan Kay Siang, 34, said: “The street used to be so much louder and the restaurants were full of chatter before Covid-19. Now, it is not as busy as before and I don’t have to raise my voice to talk to my friends.”

– Additional reporting by Jolene Ang

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