SINGAPORE—The latest wave of preventive regulations amidst the COVID-19 outbreak detailed proper seating arrangements when dining out—”related diners” can sit together, but unrelated customers must be one metre apart. With so many social distancing measures to remember and with establishments implementing their own rules, Singaporean netizens are more than a little bit befuddled by the complexity of it all.
Last Thursday (Mar 26), the government rolled out the newest safe distancing measures that Singaporeans need to adhere to while dining out at cafés and restaurants.
Under “Table seating and management”, the regulations detail that tables and seats for different groups or unrelated diners must be at least one metre apart, but “related diners”, which the government classifies as “family members” and “couples”, can sit together.
Meanwhile, most food and beverage establishments have placed signs and tape markings over seats that cannot be used, following the one-meter rule.
The stringent measures come with more severe penalties—diners who intentionally flout the social distancing regulations and sit on marked seats will be liable to being fined up to S$10,000, jailed for up to six months, or both.
Details on the penalties can be found on the the government’s e-gazette—”Measures to Prevent Spread of COVID-19″.
The marked, don’t-sit-here seats and the “related diners can be seated together” rule has caused confusion to ensue on social media, as people try to juggle the different social distancing measures being implemented.
One netizen posted the photo below on his Facebook page:
One of the seats on a two-seater table is marked, meaning no one can sit on it. However, with the new rule of family members and couples being allowed to share the same table, this netizen posed the obvious dilemma:
“Can couple take this seats? I don’t see a need to stay 1m away from my wife since we share the same bed,” he wrote, seeking clarification.
“To sit or not to sit”—that is the question, and does the “related diners” rule overrule the seat markings?
The confusion has not been limited to customers. Businesses, eager to comply with preventive measures against the spread of COVID-19, have implemented their own individual rules, which are supposed to be in line with but somehow clash with the government’s regulations.
This makes absolutely no sense at all:
More people are questioning the system, and while reactions are mixed, one thing has been made quite clear; confusion—and humour—abound.
With the government clarifying that family members and couples can sit together, many netizens shared their amused musings on how the relation would be proved, exactly:
A little humour amidst a distressing global pandemic never hurt anyone!
Netizens pointed out that there is a “double standard” being upheld when it comes to social distancing, as people who sit one meter-apart in establishments are much closer than that on buses and trains:
This is a time for common sense, discretion and good judgment, said netizens:
But how common is common sense anyway?
Someone apparently even asked if they could hold their kids!
These social media users engaged in quite a silly “flow” of conversation:
This netizen expressed people’s confusion in one snappy comment:
Many users are managing to find a lot of humour in the situation:
What about this new, COVID-19-inspired, social distancing bench idea?
Here is the section on “Table seating and management” under the new safe distancing measures for food and beverage establishments:
“a. Tables and seats for different groups of diners must be at least one metre apart. Related diners (e.g. family members, couples) can be seated together.
“b. Groups of diners must be limited to 10 persons or fewer. F&B establishments must disperse congregations of more than 10 persons by splitting the group into separate tables and ensuring a distance of at least one metre between tables.
“c. F&B establishments with fixed seating must mark out seats which should not be used. They must ensure that unrelated diners are seated at least one meter apart from one another.”