Circuit breaker controversies and good craft beer
It is hard to remember the beginning of the Circuit Breaker. In April, the focus was on the u-turn on mask-wearing. Following that were the restrictions on home based businesses. Then, when the CB tightened, it was the shutdown of all bubble tea outlets which attracted our attention. For me, however, it is a story related to beer which I will remember most clearly from this period – specifically, the furore over gatherings at Robertson Quay.
I live not far from this and so had noticed the steadily increasing volume of people gathering there on Sunday afternoons. They were there to exercise or stroll or get a takeaway coffee. And from the very beginning of the Circuit Breaker, the area was busy with passing traffic. When restaurants and bars started selling takeaway pints in plastic cups, it became much easier to forget the COVID-19 restrictions and let loose. For a couple of weeks, social distancing was largely abandoned and the area became a meet-up point for those living nearby.
The story touched a nerve online. Those seen flouting the rules were too often foreign expats living in the expensive condos nearby and so far nine people – most of them British – have been charged with breaking the coronavirus regulations. The story attracted much finger-wagging and accusations of hypocrisy. One rule for them and one for everyone else. The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) stepped in and ordered that “there will be an immediate ban on the sale of alcohol, whether takeaway or delivery” along this stretch of the river. TAP – one the bars implicated in the rule-breaking and affected by the ban – hit back on social media stating that ‘difficult situations show us how selfish some can be and the rest of us will just have to deal with it’.
TAP’s anger was understandable. All restaurants and bars have suffered through this period and many of them have been forced to be creative in order to keep their businesses afloat. But watching the situation on the street develop throughout April and May, it seemed inevitable that the authorities would have to step in at some point. The number of people playing fast and loose with the rules had become unmanageable. It reminded me how easy it is for us – all human beings – to follow the behaviour of those around us. If they’re standing over there, why can’t I sit over here? If he’s drinking a coffee on the steps, why can’t I drink a beer at this table?
TAP sells a wide range of draft beer selecting craft breweries from around the world and showcasing several of their beers at a time. The last time I was there with my wife – this all the way back in March 2020 – TAP had a number of beers from breweries in Cambodia and Taiwan. I was impressed with the flavour and temperature. Each beer is priced at $10 a pint++. It’s not cheap but for the location and the quality it doesn’t seem unreasonable either. The atmosphere is relaxed owing in part to the beautiful dappled light which envelopes that area in the afternoon. It is no surprise the location proved a magnet for local residents. Enjoy it now while it’s legal to do so.