SINGAPORE: A wedding organiser and Orange Ballroom on Monday (Dec 20) were fined for breaching COVID-19 regulations over a wedding that had 235 guests.
Osman Arrifin, 60, was fined S$6,000 while Orange Ballroom was fined S$8,000.
Osman, a business development consultant, was given two charges of contravening COVID-19 regulations over a wedding that took place from 10.30am to 6pm on Jan 30 this year.
Osman, who has been with Orange Ballroom since 2017, worked as a manager who oversaw day-to-day operations at the venue in Tanjong Katong Complex.
He was also in charge of disseminating information on safe management measures, the court heard.
On Monday, he pleaded guilty to allowing three wedding receptions with a total of 235 attendees to be held at The Orange Ballroom, when the maximum permissible group size at that time was 100.
Osman also admitted to allowing 18 guests to attend more than one wedding reception that day. He was supposed to ensure that wedding guests attended the event only at an allocated timing and not earlier or later.
This is the first such prosecution in relation to COVID-19 breaches of safe management measures for marriage solemnisations and wedding receptions.
Osman doubled as the representative for Orange Ballroom, located at 845 Geylang Road, and pleaded guilty to a single charge on behalf of the company for failing to comply with restrictions specified in the safe management measures for marriage solemnisations and wedding receptions.
The company was accused of permitting 235 guests to attend three wedding receptions, with 62, 73 and 60 attendees at each reception when the cap was 50 people per reception, and of allowing 18 guests to attend multiple receptions instead of just one.
Deputy public prosecutor Jane Lim said that before Orange Ballroom was charged, there had been several complaints against the venue for crowd issues.
These included the venue allowing up to 300 guests for weddings, not maintaining safe distancing and having guests that did not wear masks, she said.
She added that safe distancing ambassadors who performed checks had cautioned staff members at the venue.
While Orange Ballroom did not have any previous convictions, Ms Lim said that based on the complaints, it remained “undeterred” and continued to persist in breaches.
She added that in terms of crowd size, the case is “unprecedented to date”.
On the day of the wedding on Jan 30, a ballroom captain who reported to Osman had to ensure that the rules were adhered to. However, the captain did not receive any instruction from Osman, the court heard.
Ms Lim said that given his role and knowledge of safe management measures, his culpability is “moderate”.
She acknowledged that Osman was not solely responsible for the breaches.
Osman, who represented himself, said in mitigation that that when officers came to check on Orange Ballroom, given that the rules were new, he said: “Please teach us.”
He added that “there will be some lapse here and there”, as from September last year to end of this year, “we have almost 560 events”.
He said that there is no monetary gain to the company for a bigger crowd, and the one who benefits is the caterer. He also said that the venue experienced financial losses due to the COVID-19 restrictions.
Osman said he oversees three ballrooms at Tanjong Katong Complex and that he was not present at the particular wedding at the centre of the case. He could “simply” have put the blame on the ballroom captain on duty on that day, he said. He did not because he is a “man of integrity”, he said.
“My principle in life, I want to be responsible in anything I do,” he said.
Judge Toh Han Li stressed in response to his mitigation that the “key” issue is the exposure (of the virus) to such a large number of people.
Those who fail to comply with safe management measures can be jailed for up to six months and fined up to S$10,000 for the first offence, and face double the jail time and fine for repeat offences.