SINGAPORE - Partying till the sun comes up in Clarke Quay may soon be a thing of the past.
This is because the police have shortened the liquor licensing hours for tenants there, following reports of drunken behaviour in the area.
Under the new limitations which kick in on Oct 1, bars and nightclubs stretching from River Valley Road to the Clarke Quay Read Bridge will not be able to sell liquor after 3am on Sundays and weekdays, and after 4am on Saturdays and the eve of public holidays.
This will affect about 20 of the more than 60 outlets in Clarke Quay, a nightlife destination popular with locals and tourists.
Although they do not impact the operating hours or entertainment offerings of the affected outlets, patrons who wish to continue drinking past the new time limits will have to purchase their alcohol before then.
Some clubs may still get to sell alcohol past 3am after Oct 1, but will have to comply with the new rules once their current liquor extension licence expires.
A police spokesman said the change "was introduced following complaints of drunken behaviour in the area, which could affect the public's sense of safety and security in Clarke Quay which is a popular entertainment area in Singapore".
There has also been an increase in thefts there in recent years, from an average of three cases a month in 2011, to five cases a month now.
In the past year, there were two separate cases of intoxicated patrons drowning after falling into the Singapore River.
The new rules were set by the police in consultation with the Liquor Licensing Board. Nightlife operators in the area told The Straits Times they were informed of the changes about two weeks ago.
Some added that the tighter liquor licensing rules, coupled with new guidelines issued by the Urban Redevelopment Authority to restrict outdoor riverside dining in some parts of Clarke Quay and Robertson Quay, will deal a double whammy to the area's appeal.
Mr Bernard Lim, 44, chief executive of public-listed nightlife group LifeBrandz, an anchor tenant operating several bars and clubs in Clarke Quay, said the authorities did not engage operators about the new policy.
He added: "There are more than 60 outlets here and there are bound to be drunk people behaving stupidly. The problem should be handled in other ways."
Mr Lim suggested beefing up security in nightclubs and bars; that the landlord have more security personnel monitoring common areas; and that the police patrol the area more often.
Some nightclub operators also pointed out that the problem of drunken behaviour in the area is not necessarily caused by customers from their outlets.
Teenagers have been seen buying cheap alcohol from nearby convenience stores and drinking along the Singapore River and the Read Bridge, they said.
Clarke Quay, owned by CapitaMall Trust and managed by CapitaMalls Asia, sees more than a million visitors to the area each month. A spokesman for Clarke Quay said the area will remain "a 24-hour entertainment zone".
LifeBrandz's Mr Lim added that Clarke Quay tenants will be meeting their landlord in the next few days to decide if they wish to appeal against the new rules.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.