Little India alcohol curbs eased, steps to control crowds

Little India alcohol curbs eased, steps to control crowds

SINGAPORE - Some 240 establishments in Little India and its surrounding areas, including restaurants, were given the all-clear on Wednesday to sell alcohol this weekend.

But these businesses - which hold public house and beer house licences - cannot let customers consume the drinks outside of their premises, as a ban on public consumption of alcohol remains in place.

Another 134 shops including convenience and liquor shops - which hold retail and wholesale licences - will be able to sell alcohol to customers on a takeaway basis between 6am and 8pm.

The Land Transport Authority also announced that private bus services that ferry workers to Little India on Sundays would resume, but at half the scheduled number for a start.

This is expected to halve the number of workers who use the buses to get to Little India from their dormitories, shrinking the crowd who arrive by buses to about 11,000. All services were suspended last weekend.

Similarly, the police relaxed its alcohol ban in favour of a more "calibrated and sustainable approach", said Deputy Commissioner of Police T. Raja Kumar at a press conference on Wednesday.

The new rules will be in place on weekends, public holidays and the eves of public holidays for up to six months, until the Committee of Inquiry looking into the Dec 8 riot makes its recommendations.

A ban on the sale and public consumption of booze last weekend acted as a "cooling off" measure after alcohol was identified as a possible factor that fuelled the riot, which left 39 Home Team officers hurt and 25 government vehicles damaged.

On Wednesday, the police said the ban helped to restore safety and security in Little India, where foreign workers typically gathered during the weekend to run errands, shop, eat and drink.

But affected businesses in the 1.1 sq km dry zone said sales slumped up to 90 per cent.


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