National Gallery Restaurant Gemma Steakhouse Suspended For 20 Days After Halloween Party

Since we were allowed to dine out from the start of Phase 2, safe management measures (SMMs) have been conveyed clearly to all food and beverage (F&B) establishments.

Yet, in the last 6 months we’ve seen cases of diners flouting the rules at various eateries across Singapore, causing them to be fined and/or suspended.

The latest F&B outlet to attract attention in a negative way is Gemma, a steakhouse on the 5th floor of the National Gallery.

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After being suspended for 20 days for hosting a Halloween party involving 75 guests, they’ve apologised for disappointing guests.

They’ll use the time to improve their safe management measures.

Restaurant hosted Halloween dinner

In a news release from the Ministry of Sustainability and Environment (MSE) on Friday (4 Dec), the restaurant was the venue of a Halloween-themed dinner.

75 guests in total attended the event, which was organised by a private members’ club.

Photo for illustration purposes only
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All the diners were either members of the club or their guests. They were seated at tables of up to 5 people.

Guests intermingled, didn’t wear masks

However, CCTV footage of the event was seen by the authorities.

It revealed that though the diners were seated in tables of up to 5, they still intermingled frequently between tables.

Restaurant staff didn’t take reasonable steps to prevent such behaviour from occurring, according to the footage.

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The diners also didn’t wear their masks when they weren’t eating or drinking.

According to the law, specifically the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) (Control Order) Regulations 2020, F&B outlets are not allowed to accept booking from groups of more than 5 people.

This applies even if the people are split across multiple tables.

Intermingling between the groups is also not allowed.

Gemma ordered to shut down

For its violations, Gemma was ordered by the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) to shut down its operations for 20 days till 22 Dec — double the duration compared with other restaurants that were given just 10 days.

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Investigations are also ongoing into possible breaking of the rules for by various parties, and “a serious view” is being taken of the incident.

MSE added that although dining out “involves considerable risks”, a minority still continue to breach SMMs.

Thus, the ministry added,

We will not hesitate to take strong enforcement action against operators and individuals who treat SMMs with flagrant disregard.

Gemma apologises for disappointing guests

In a Facebook post on Friday (4 Dec), Gemma apologised for disappointing supporters and guests.

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The restaurant didn’t refer explicitly to the breaching of rules.

But it did, however, mention that it was especially sorry for disappointing guests who had made reservations during the period of the suspension.

These reservations have now been affected.

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The outlet will respect the authorities’ decision, and take the time in the next few weeks of suspension to improve its SMMs.

Gemma will reopen for business on 23 Dec.

According to a previous post on Facebook, the restaurant opened for business just weeks ago, on 21 Oct.

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Unfortunately for them, that means they’ve had to close just 6 weeks after opening for the first time.

Netizen rages against restaurant

Not all took the announcement on Gemma’s Facebook post kindly, with one netizen of the opinion that the restaurant should have apologised for flouting SMMs, instead of disappointing customers.

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However, at least one comment showed support for the outlet, telling them to “stay strong”.

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Another netizen also accused the restaurant of blocking the comments.

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Covid-19 still a grave threat, be socially responsible

6 months into Phase 2, it seems that some may have forgotten that Covid-19 still exists in Singapore.

As dining in at public places is considered risky due to the enclosed spaces and maskless eating, we still have to be socially responsible for the sake of community health.

Restaurant operators have a particularly tough job regulating the behaviour of its patrons, but it simply must be done.

Hear this restaurant owner’s plea on why safe distancing is important:

Safe Distancing Is Matter Of Life & Death For Businesses, Says S’pore Eatery Owner

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Featured image adapted from Google Maps and Google Maps.