Some restaurants report cancellation in bookings as diners turn cautious

The Wuhan coronavirus has dampened feasting this Chinese New Year, with some restaurants reporting cancelled bookings as people become cautious about dining out.

Mr Reuben Chua, chief operating officer of Yunnans restaurants at Jewel Changi Airport and Westgate mall, noted that each outlet has seen more than 20 cancelled reservations in the last week or so. More diners are also choosing to take away food instead of dining in.

Dr Martin Bem, founding managing director of LeVeL33 at Marina Bay Financial Centre Tower 1, is receiving cancellations on a daily basis, especially large groups that have cancelled events.

Similarly, the Crystal Jade Group has also seen big groups of diners cancelling their Chinese New Year reservations. The group's restaurants, particularly its brands in the town area, have also seen a "slight dip" in dine-in customers, said a spokesman for the group.

Over at The Fullerton Hotels and Resorts, its general manager Cavaliere Giovanni Viterale noted that "a few guests" have postponed their stays and events. However, he added that bookings are still being received for upcoming months.

Food and beverage businesses as well as hotels that ST spoke to are remaining vigilant and taking all necessary precautions. In general, all guidelines from the Ministry of Health and other government agencies are being followed closely.

These include sanitising tables and chairs, furniture and hotel rooms, and offering hand sanitisers and communal dining cutlery to diners. Temperature screening as well as masks are provided for staff, who are required to wash and disinfect their hands regularly.

Mr Kieran Twomey, group chief operating officer of Millennium Hotels and Resorts (MHR), said MHR's six hotels have at least two rooms set aside as "holding rooms" which can be used for isolation if required.

MHR's hotels are Orchard Hotel, Grand Copthorne Waterfront, M Hotel, Copthorne King's Hotel, M Social and Studio M.

He added: "If a guest has a fever, he will be advised to stay in his own room till the ambulance arrives. The room and other relevant areas will then be disinfected thoroughly. Special attention has been given to sanitising public contact points such as elevator buttons, reception counters, and conference and meeting rooms."

Also, buffet set-ups at each hotel's restaurants will be replenished more frequently to ensure that food is not left out for too long.

While business at the Swensen's chain of restaurants has been stable so far, orders for food delivery have picked up, said Mr Teo Tong Loong, group business development director of ABR Holdings, which operates Swensen's.

He added that discounted family set meals are available via delivery platforms for diners who prefer to stay at home during this period.

Kam's Roast, which has outlets at Pacific Plaza and Jewel Changi Airport, is offering free soup of the day for all dine-in customers. Its operations manager Kenny Chee said that should the situation worsen, it expects dine-in business to be affected and is working on expanding its food delivery menu.