'This is nothing'

CROWDED: A waitress in face mask attending to customers at the alfresco dining area of Clarke Quay's Hooters' restaurant. Restaurant manager Joey Tan says that this was a company decision to protect its staff from the haze.

SINGAPORE - There were signs that this was not your usual Friday night along Clarke Quay.

Manager Joey Leong, 32, said: "This was a decision by the owners to protect the girls. If they're stationed outside, they should wear masks."

But this did not stop the usual Friday night revellers from turning up in droves.

Though three-hour PSI levels had hit a record high of 401 at noon yesterday, the place was bustling around 10pm.

There were 15 people queueing to ride the G-Max and another 40 were watching. A street performer drew another 50 people. Several alfresco-style dining spots were full.

Miss Alice Boyd, 16, an English national who has been living in Singapore for several years, said: "We don't really care. We're gonna live life on the edge!"

Miss Ezgi Worthy, 14, who was with her father, said: "We would not abort our plans, the haze really does not make much of a difference."

Miss Rachel Chan, 22, felt the same way. "We have only one Friday night a week, I would not waste it just because of haze," she said. "I mean, it's not like the haze levels tonight are hazardous or anything. Why be so kiasu?"

Still, several people took the precaution of wearing masks.

"We are not willing to forego our Friday night plans but we felt that these two hours outdoors should also not compromise our health," said Miss Ng Lee Fen, 32.

Another business not willing to compromise on health was The Lilypad, an alfresco restaurant. It was closed for the night.

The manager Mr Kamal Abdelrazah, 41, said: "We closed it to protect the health of the staff. We did not want to put anyone at risk."

He said customers were directed to a sister concern, the Coriander Leaf, which is an indoor restaurant.