Hotpot restaurant fined for serving alcohol after 10:30 p.m. during COVID-19 pandemic, restaurant closed

SINGAPORE: A fondue restaurant that served alcohol after 10:30 p.m. during the COVID-19 pandemic was fined S $ 5,000 by a court on Wednesday November 24, a legal representative of the restaurant saying the closures ordered by the authorities were “already worse than a fine”.

Tangmen, the restaurant in Orchard Plaza, has closed after the owners lost around S $ 300,000, he added.

The representative pleaded guilty on behalf of Tangmen to two counts of violating COVID-19 regulations by not stopping alcohol consumption on his premises after 10:30 p.m.

The court heard that agents from the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) visited the restaurant at around 3:40 a.m. on December 19, 2020.

They observed two customers consuming drinks poured from a green tea bottle in the store and started investigating there.

The two customers had arrived at the restaurant at 2 a.m. to eat and drink, and had ordered beer from the waitress and supervisor.

Staff poured liquid from beer bottles into green tea bottles and mugs and served it to customers.

Law enforcement officers returned to the restaurant after midnight on May 1 of this year and observed three customers with three mugs full of “frothy yellow drinks” on their tables.

They investigated and found that customers arrived at the store between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. to eat and drink.

At around 10:30 p.m. there was still beer in their bottles, so an employee transferred the liquid to a teapot and three tea cups for customers to continue drinking.

The prosecutor has asked for a fine of at least S $ 5,000, saying the court should send a strong signal to food and drink outlets to remain vigilant during the pandemic and adhere to the measures.

He said there had been attempts to cover up the alcohol on each occasion – with the liquid being served in green tea bottles for the first, and in a teapot and cups for the second.

The representative, who did not have an avocado, said tea cups were the usual cups used to serve drinks in restaurants.

He said the restaurant was ordered to close for 10 days for the first violation and 20 days for the second.

“For us, it’s already worse than a fine,” he said through a Mandarin interpreter.

“It is very difficult to maintain our food and beverage business during the pandemic. Although we cannot say that this matter is the reason our store closed, but it is a major contributing factor.”

He added that the owners have already lost around S $ 300,000.

“For us to be punished again with a judicial fine is fatal. We are on the verge of bankruptcy,” he said.

The judge said it is clearly known that many food businesses have been affected by the pandemic and many have suffered financial losses, but stressed that COVID-19 measures must be strictly adhered to.

It allowed the representative to pay the fine in installments before January.

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