Restos still confused at guidelines

National 2 minutes, 50 seconds


RESTAURANTS in the Bandar Seri Begawan (BSB) municipality are still unsure whether they can continue their business past midnight, despite the government saying some eateries are allowed to operate beyond 12am.

Some restaurants said they made applications to the BSB Municipal Department for a permit to operate after midnight a few years ago, but had yet to receive a response.

On Monday, the Ministry of Home Affairs issued a statement stating that businesses granted permission to operate beyond 12am can continue to do so under existing regulations. However, it did not state how many businesses had been given the green light to open past midnight.

It added that the ministry is willing to consider allowing exceptions such as businesses located at the airport, hospitals, hotels and “businesses needed by the public” to operate past midnight, especially during festive seasons and Ramadhan.

When contacted by The Brunei Times yesterday, the owner of a restaurant chain said he had closed all four of his outlets by midnight after the BSB Municipal Department issued a circular forbidding businesses to open past midnight more than a week ago.

“It was reported in the newspapers today that we are allowed to continue operating if we have the permits. I am a bit confused whether to open past 12am now because the last thing I want is for my shops to get blacklisted,” said the owner who did not want to be named.

He explained that all four of his outlets have licences to operate up to 12am only, but two had been given permits by the Municipal Department to run the business after midnight.

“Two of my restaurants have permits (issued by Municipal Department). One of them is allowed to operate until 2am and the other at 3am,” he said.

Another restaurant that usually operates past 12am has not been opened for over a week now.

Its owner said he is confused whether they are permitted to open after 12am as they did not receive an official letter from the Municipal Department.

The owner said he received a permit from the Municipal Department allowing the restaurant to operate until 2am for a year. However, he tried applying for a new permit after it expired four years ago, but did not get a government response.

Up until the circular was issued more than a week ago, the popular midnight eatery had remained open until 2am.

The owner, who declined to be named, said he is unsure of opening the restaurant past midnight,

“We want to see if other restaurants will open past midnight, and if they get into trouble. We did not receive any official letter so we remain uncertain,” he said.

Another restaurant, known for its nasi katok in Gadong, has also closed its doors at midnight since receiving the circular from the Municipal Department.

The owner, who declined to be named, said the restaurant does not have a permit to operate past midnight, but they had been open until 3am daily.

The restaurant had been trying to apply for a permit since 2013, but the owner said no response was given.

“I am confused. They gave us the letter last week and expect us to act on it straightaway. They should just do a statement to clarify everything once and for all,” the owner said.

The Municipal Department did not respond when asked for comment yesterday.

The Brunei Times