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Since August 10, food and beverage operators have had to ensure that those dining in are complying with rules on vaccination. — TODAY pic
Since August 10, food and beverage operators have had to ensure that those dining in are complying with rules on vaccination. — TODAY pic

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SINGAPORE, Aug 17 — Since rules allowing only fully vaccinated people to dine in at food-and-beverage (F&B) outlets kicked in last week, PizzaExpress has encountered two unvaccinated customers who have tried to gain entry to its outlets using a screenshot of someone else’s vaccination status on the TraceTogether mobile application.

PizzaExpress’ director Sam Lim said: “We’ve had customers who come in a group and have one friend among them who tried to sneak in with a screenshot.

“One group was a bit embarrassed when they got caught and they decided to go somewhere else instead.” 

Since last Tuesday (August 10), diners have had to show proof of their accination status either through their TraceTogether or HealthHub apps, or by scanning their TraceTogether token or showing their original vaccination card.

A person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after he or she has received both doses of the Moderna or the Pfizer-BioNTech or Comirnaty vaccines, as well as other vaccines recognised on the World Health Organisation’s Emergency Use Listing, including those made by Sinovac and Sinopharm.

Exemptions apply to people who have recovered from Covid-19 and have a valid pre-event testing exemption notice, and those who have a pre-event test result for the duration of the meal from a Ministry of Health (MOH)-approved test provider within the previous 24 hours.

Aside from PizzaExpress, another two out of the 18 F&B operators interviewed by TODAY said that they have encountered unvaccinated patrons who have tried to pull a fast one on their staff members by showing a screenshot of a fully vaccinated person’s TraceTogether app.

This trick has led some restaurants to change the way that they conduct checks or be more thorough when doing so.

For example, Ms Bonnie Wong, chief operating officer of Creative Eateries, said that since the first day the new rules took effect, it has introduced the SafeEntry (Business) app at all of its eateries.

The app allows business owners to scan a person’s TraceTogether token or app to show whether he or she is fully vaccinated or not.

“This reduces the need to make customers show that they’re really using the TraceTogether app,” she said.

Creative Eateries owns brands such as Bangkok Jam, Siam Kitchen and Suki-Ya. Ms Wong said that it has encountered one errant customer so far.

Other F&B operators said that they have become more diligent about clicking the refresh button on the TraceTogether app to confirm that a customer is not flashing a fake vaccination certificate.

Last week, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said in a Facebook post that the authorities are aware of individuals who are passing off someone else’s vaccine certificate as their own.

“Don’t do that… The authorities will enforce against this, and offenders will face severe penalties,” he said.

TODAY has reached out to the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment on what penalties such offenders face and how many errant patrons have been taken to task for using fake vaccination certificates.

Foreign vaccination certificates, bargaining customers

Aside from patrons flashing fake vaccination certificates, some F&B operators have encountered foreigners carrying vaccination documents from overseas seeking to dine in at their restaurants.

However, since MOH has said that hard copies of vaccination certificates obtained overseas will not be accepted, they have had to turn these patrons away as well.

“We had a Turkish woman who brought a document apparently documenting that she had recovered from Covid, but we turned her away because we can’t accept anything that isn’t on HealthHub or TraceTogether,” one restaurant manager said.

“She said she understood, but told us that she would not come to our restaurant again, kind of taking it out on us. Moments later, she went to (a neighbouring restaurant) and she ate there,” the manager said. She did not want to be identified because she does not want to implicate the neighbouring restaurant.

Ray Sam, a supervisor at Japanese restaurant Genki Sushi’s outlet in Bugis, said that he, too, encountered a foreigner from China who was carrying her vaccination certificate from her home country and he had to turn her away.

He also encountered more than 10 patrons who have received both doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, but have not yet waited for the two weeks to pass, who have tried to bargain by asking the restaurant to make an exception.

“Since their TraceTogether app is not updated, we have to turn them away,” he said. — TODAY

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