COVID-19: Encik Tan store failed to separate diners’ chairs at 1m, group of parents fined by court

SINGAPORE: The parent company of an Encik Tan grocery store in the Orchard Road area was fined S $ 4,000 on Tuesday January 11 for failing to ensure diners’ chairs are spaced apart. ‘at least 1 m from those of the other tables.

Fei Siong Food Management was sentenced after a representative pleaded guilty to one count of violating a COVID-19 control order.

Fei Siong, which has more than 150 outlets across Singapore, has been fined eight debt restructuring or extrajudicial fines for previous breaches of control orders at his other outlets.

The court heard that agents from the Singapore Tourism Board visited the Encik Tan outlet at 313 Somerset at around 7:50 p.m. on May 14 last year.

Officers observed the area for about five minutes before taking measurements of the distances between some clients’ chairs.

During those five minutes, management did not attempt to verify the 1m requirement, the prosecutor said.

Officer checks revealed that there were three instances where the backs of chairs were not at least 1m away from seats at other tables.

Instead, they were about 40cm, 79cm, and 88cm apart. The management of the food store therefore neglected the need to maintain a distance of 1 m as required by the COVID-19 control orders.

Eight times, Fei Siong Food Management had flouted control orders in other outlets and paid composition fines in these cases.

The prosecutor asked for a fine of S $ 5,000, while the defense asked for no more than S $ 2,500.

Lawyer Shaun Marc Lew has asked the court to consider the difficulties in enforcing the rules and that Fei Siong has more than 150 outlets to manage.

Fei Siong had devised a safe management plan for his outlets, including Encik Tan, disseminating the information to his brand managers who would then communicate it to employees.

Brand officials also occasionally visited outlets to make sure the metrics were being followed, Lew said.

He said the violations were committed at lunchtime on a Friday, a generally busy time for the outlet.

Fei Siong “did not meet” legal requirements due to labor limitations, he said, but stressed that he had placed yellow marks at the 1m limit, which goes beyond legal requirements.

The restaurant has a “casual and relaxed” environment, and the chairs are not fixed to the floor, so it is “also dependent on Fei Siong’s customers” to exercise caution, the lawyer said.

He said that Fei Siong’s failure was due to the labor shortage, not a challenge. The group did not meet the requirement of 1m by a few centimeters, he said.

The judge said the company had been fined in the past and that was a factor to keep in mind.

The company could have been fined up to S $ 10,000.

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