Coronavirus: Home bakers cannot operate under circuit breaker rules

Home bakers said there was widespread confusion on whether they were allowed to operate. PHOTO: ST FILE

Home bakeries are not allowed to operate under the enhanced circuit breaker measures, according to the Housing Board website.

It states that home-based businesses have to cease operations if they require the owner to leave the residential premises or have third-party services deliver the goods, among other measures.

Customers are also not allowed to collect the goods themselves.

The issue arose after a report in Malay-language paper Berita Harian yesterday noted that home bakers cannot operate if they involve delivery services, which are typical for online home-based businesses.

The Ministry of Trade and Industry said on Tuesday that the list of essential services would be tightened, resulting in standalone outlets that sell only beverages, packaged snacks, confectioneries or desserts having to close.

Home bakers The Sunday Times spoke to said there was widespread confusion on whether they were allowed to operate.

The owner of Liberty Bakes, who declined to be named, said "everything has been confusing and the regulations keep changing, so we are in a dilemma as to whether we can still continue". It stopped operating a few days ago and is sorting through refunds for orders that have been cancelled or postponed.

Ms Siti Hartini, owner of home bakery Shartini's Food Journal, said: "I have to put everything on hold, which is difficult with the upcoming Hari Raya celebrations. It is all very uncertain."

She has stopped accepting new orders and put existing ones on hold.

"I'm telling customers that if they're celebrating their birthday next week, I still cannot confirm if I can get them a cake," added Ms Siti. "I have to make them understand this sort of thing is really unforeseen."

She also has to deal with her accumulated ingredients, some of which are perishables like fruit.

"Ever since the outbreak started, I've told the delivery team to hang all orders at customers' gates and take a photo for them, so there is contactless delivery," she added.

Singapore Malay Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SMCCI) president Farid Khan said in a Facebook post it is aware of feedback from those who have been impacted by the measures, especially during Ramadan. "SMCCI is working closely with all the relevant authorities to look into this matter urgently... exploring all avenues to address this issue and find an amicable solution without compromising social distancing procedures," he said.

Dr Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Social and Family Development, said he has heard the concerns of such businesses but stressed the measures will go a long way to save lives. He noted that the Government will provide support to help them tide over this period.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 26, 2020, with the headline Coronavirus: Home bakers cannot operate under circuit breaker rules. Subscribe