‘Our livelihoods are at stake’: A restaurant manager’s plea for diners to follow Covid-19 rules

It has been an eventful 21 months for Singapore residents, not thanks to Covid-19.

The regulations have been regularly adapted to combat the coronavirus.

Regulation that has not remained constant has had the greatest public impact.

Dining restrictions have moved from a blanket ban to the current cap of two fully vaccinated diners per table in all restaurants, including cafes and hawker centres.

If diners find it stressful to deal with ever-changing rules, try to imagine the situation I find myself in as a restaurant manager.

What we are experiencing is unprecedented even for an old hand like me with 27 years of experience in this sector.

Not only do we have to align our business with inconsistent regulations and deal with significant revenue drops, but cracking down on diners to play by the rules has become part of our job.

It has been nearly three weeks since the government only allowed groups of two vaccinated people to dine in restaurants.

Yet there are still many who blatantly ignore this.

They are selfish individuals who do not care about the livelihoods and safety of food and beverage (F&B) workers. Instead, they narrowly focus on their own interests.

I have come across many tricks that people use to beat the system.

I met a customer who was using his friend’s TraceTogether contact tracing token to check into our restaurant, while his friend was using the TraceTogether mobile app.

If we hadn’t been vigilant and spotted the similarities in the ID numbers listed on our SafeEntry Business app, they would have escaped.

This group is always easy to deal with, as parties simply shy away when caught red-handed.

More gruesome are those who insist on having their reservations recognized for more than two vaccinated people.

Despite government guidelines, these guests will insist that we acknowledge the reservation by dividing the party into small groups of two.

Some have even gone so far as to use the “I’m your regular customer” card.

Regular or not, having us accept your illegal booking is like saying it’s perfectly okay to run a red light and we’ll get away with it.

Let me point out that this is not good. This selfish act could result in the closure of our business and the loss of our livelihood.

If an F&B operator is caught flouting infection controls, the risk of fines and closure is real.

In tough times like these, it would send a restaurant to its grave.

And, with any closure, jobs are inevitably lost.

As a manager, it is my primary duty to protect my employer’s business and the livelihoods of my colleagues.

You may yell at me on the phone and think I’m adamant not to comply with your demands.

But, if we had to change positions, would you jeopardize the jobs of your colleagues to please a selfish person?

Unless you’re inhuman, I’m sure we have the same answer.


Mr. Ong Hoe Yeen is a restaurant manager, mixologist and sake sommelier. He has worked in the F&B industry for 27 years.

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