Haze hurting outdoor eateries


Masked service: Waiters serving customers at OverEasy in Fullerton Road in Singapore. Restaurants with al fresco dining say customers have been staying away since last weekend. — The Straits Times/ANN

SINGAPORE: Some outdoor eateries are feeling the pinch as customers stay away because of the unhealthy levels of air quality due to haze that have been recorded in Singapore since last week.

Al fresco restaurants and open-air hawker stalls in the Central Business District when met on Wednesday said they have seen a 20% drop in lunch and dinner crowds in the past few days.

Since the haze started enveloping Singapore, Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) readings have typically been higher in the southern part of the republic.

Syahrul Jaffar, 36, assistant manager at restaurant OverEasy in Fullerton Road, said the effects of the haze could already be seen over the weekend when several diners cancelled their reservations because of the high PSI readings.

The restaurant, which can seat about 350 customers, has a waterside view of Marina Bay, with about three-quarters of its seating located outdoors.

“The last couple of days, we have seen about 20% fewer customers than usual because of the haze, ” he said, adding that staff started wearing face masks last Friday.

The restaurant also has masks available for customers.

Over at Amoy Street Food Centre, stall owners also reported a drop in the number of customers this week.

Jenny Juthamard, 49, owner of food stall Authentic Thai, said: “Every day I check the haze and hope that it hasn’t gotten worse because it does affect business.”

Fong Lin Yan, 59, owner of a fruit juice stall at the food centre, agreed that the haze is not great for business.

The Straits Times visited the food centre during lunchtime on Wednesday and noted that it was still relatively crowded, with only a few empty tables.

Fong said that although the food centre still has many customers, it would be “even more packed” without the haze.

“Now that there is some haze, so many customers have run indoors, ” she said.

Those who have continued to dine outdoors said they did not mind the haze for now.

Manager Annie Ng, 50, who works in Cecil Street, said she comes to Amoy Street Food Centre almost every day for lunch and plans to continue to do so.

“I’m not affected by the haze and I’m not really worried about it because it will pass.”

Consultant Andrew Wu, 28, who also often dines at the food centre, said: “The haze is getting bad but we still have to eat. I don’t mind being outdoors in the haze just for a while during lunch. It’s still bearable.”Air quality in Singapore hit unhealthy levels for the first time in three years on Saturday and has fluctuated over the past few days.

The haze worsened on Wednesday with the 24-hour PSI crossing into the unhealthy band with a reading of 111 in the northern region and 130 in the south. — The Straits Times/ANN


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