Govt to offer relief from legal obligations for cancelled large gatherings due to Covid-19

Guests at a wedding at the Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore, sitting at tables that were placed at least a metre apart.
Guests at a wedding at the Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore, sitting at tables that were placed at least a metre apart.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - People who may have to forfeit deposits because of cancelled large gatherings amid the coronavirus outbreak are set to receive support and relief from legal obligations.

Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat, in unveiling a $48 billion Supplementary Budget on Thursday (March 26), noted that providing relief from legal obligations that have arisen because of the Covid-19 situation is also an "important and complementary" part of help measures.

"It is no fault of theirs that they cannot perform these obligations. For example, people may have paid deposits for a big gathering that now cannot go ahead. It is not their fault that the gathering cannot go ahead," he said in Parliament.

"Should the deposits be simply forfeited? That won't be right."

Mr Heng, who is also the Finance Minister, said that the Government is studying the issue, and that Law Minister K. Shanmugam will present a set of measures next week to deal with this matter.

Major events that were called off or postponed in Singapore in recent months due to the coronavirus outbreak include golfing tournament HSBC Women's World Championship, IT Show 2020, the Income Eco Run, the annual DBS Marina Regatta and concerts such as those by K-pop group GOT7 and Taiwanese singer Jam Hsiao.

More cancellations may be in store amid tightening rules on large gatherings to reduce the risk of the virus spreading in Singapore.

On March 20, the Ministry of Health said that all events and gatherings with 250 or more people in attendance at any one time must be suspended until June 30. Even if the events are smaller, those attending them will have to be placed a safe and sufficient distance apart.

Measures were stepped up on Wednesday when the Government decided to close all entertainment venues such as bars and cinemas from Thursday (March 26) at 11.59pm until April 30. Religious services are also suspended and establishments such as malls, museums and restaurants must reduce crowd density to stay open.