The majority of the businesses in Southeast Asia’s smallest nation are taking a hit as a result of the persistent, hazardous haze in Singapore that has been putting a damper on customers’ desire to go on their outdoor adventures.
Those which are bracing themselves for a long decline in sales are also those which were deeply looking forward to a surge from Formula 1 week – one of the biggest and most profitable weeks of the year for many businesses. A few of these firms have already started to see their takings go down.
Many establishments, especially restaurants with ample outdoor seats, have been greatly affected according to Singapore River One, a not-for-profit organization that manages businesses at Clarke Quay, Boat Quay and Robertson Quay. A few of them are the Dallas Restaurant & Bar, Pasta Fresca Da Salvatore, and The Penny Black Victorian London Pub.
The Dallas Restaurant & Bar saw its number of customers nearly halved. According to the restaurant supervisor, Nikkie Caube, they usually accommodated over 250 customers per day but the recent haze has brought the number down sharply to only about 150 customers daily.
The Pasta Fresca Da Salvatore at Boat Quay was hit even harder. With only one table occupied on Monday, when there would have normally been 10 to 12 tables occupied daily without the haze, the restaurant has gone through some rough patches. The public relations manager of Pasta Fresca, Eleonora Caroppo said, “During this time, everyone wants to sit inside and we don’t have enough space to accommodate) all the customers indoors, so we had to reject several customers on some days.”
As for the Penny Black Victorian London Pub, sales were down by 20% even though they had counted on the F1 season to boost their sales. Their customer service manager, Declan O’Donnell commented, “Tourists will usually pass by our pub while walking down the river (during) the F1 period and some make a pit-stop for drinks here.”
The extent of damage to businesses is not limited to restaurants, for even coffee shops have not been spared. Many cafes reported declining sales. Steven Chan, 55, supervisor of Siang Ho Coffee Shop in the Chinatown area, said that he had been closing an hour earlier at 19:00 because of the haze and drop in patrons. He estimated that his business was down by about 10%.
An owner of a noodle shop in Chinatown also remarked that his business had dropped and that he had noticed a sharp hike in takeaways.
Not All Businesses Affected by Haze
However, not all is lost as there were other businesses which are still doing fine. At Equinox Restaurant located on the 70th floor of Swissotel The Stamford, restaurant reservations over the race weekend have not been affected. But noting that haze conditions may vary in the upcoming days, the management said it would take into consideration guidelines set by the National Environment Agency.
Even though their businesses have not been affected, these restaurants were not taking any chances.
1-Altitude, located on level 63 of OUB Centre, said that it has prepared two other indoor venues at Altimate and Stellar in case conditions worsen.
At Marina Bay Sands, a spokesperson said that health advisories for guests at their rooftop establishments have been placed at ticketing booths. Customers who required a mask before they ventured outdoors can also approach staff for assistance.
Resorts World Sentosa and Sentosa Development Cooperation have prepared contingency plans as well. Resorts World said it is currently advising guests and staff to stay hydrated and take regular rest periods. It is prepared to adjust outdoor shows and entertainment schedules, and has placed trained medical personnel on standby.
Sentosa Development Cooperation said that it has issued N95 masks and eye drops to staff working outdoors and scheduled more breaks for them. If the Pollutant Standards Index exceeded 300, or if the experience of the attraction is comprised, operations of some of the outdoor attractions may be temporarily suspended, it said.