No opaque doors or access to private rooms among tougher rules for converted KTVs wishing to resume operations

A karaoke lounge at Balestier Point. Nightlife operators that converted to food-and-beverage operations cannot use blackout windows or opaque doors along their perimeter if they wish to resume business. — Photo by Nuria Ling for TODAY
A karaoke lounge at Balestier Point. Nightlife operators that converted to food-and-beverage operations cannot use blackout windows or opaque doors along their perimeter if they wish to resume business. — Photo by Nuria Ling for TODAY

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SINGAPORE, July 31 — Before they are allowed to resume operations, nightlife operators that converted to food-and-beverage (F&B) operations must ensure their interiors are “clearly visible” to people outside and cannot use blackout windows or opaque doors along their perimeter. 

They must also lock all private rooms, with only their main halls permitted for F&B operations.

The ministries of Sustainability and the Environment, Home Affairs, and Trade and Industry set out these tighter infection control measures for converted nightlife establishments today (July 31).

This came after more than 400 such businesses were ordered to suspend their operations for two weeks from July 16 until yesterday to stem the spread of Covid-19 following a cluster of cases at karaoke television (KTV) lounges and clubs.

As of yesterday, there were 250 coronavirus cases linked to the cluster.

Converted outlets must stay closed, including for takeaways, until they pass inspections and receive written approval to reopen.

About 50 converted nightspots that breached infection control measures since October last year will not be allowed to reopen. 

For those that may resume business, the other infection control measures they must roll out include closed-circuit television cameras covering all areas of their operation, including entrances to the locked private rooms. 

Lighting must be sufficient for activities to be observed via the cameras, the ministries said.

Separately, employees deployed at the entrances of the outlets must not hold up the entry of enforcement officers or prevent members of the public from looking in.

Equipment for public entertainment, such as pool tables, dart boards and karaoke machines, must also be out of sight of patrons. 

All employees of the outlets must also undergo Covid-19 fast and easy tests at a Health Promotion Board quick-test centre every seven days after operations resume. 

This is more stringent than such employer-supervised tests for typical F&B outlets, which are done every 14 days. 

In addition, SafeEntry Gateways, which allow people to check in to public places, must be made available at entry and exit points to allow for contact tracing.

Operators must also comply with licensing conditions, such as those on food preparation facilities and menus.

Before restarting operations, all their employees must also have taken a polymerase chain reaction Covid-19 swab test and the outlets must satisfy all infection control requirements. 

The ministries cautioned that outlets found to have restarted operations, including for takeaways, without a conditional permit will face firm action. This includes prosecution and the cancellation of licences for food, public entertainment and liquor. 

“Establishments that breach safe-management measures are liable to have their conditional permits to operate withdrawn and must close immediately,” the ministries said.

Since October last year, government agencies have increased enforcement checks on F&B outlets, including converted nightspots.

Seven operators have thus far had their licences revoked permanently and were ordered to stop operations. — TODAY

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