SINGAPORE - After a two-year halt due to the pandemic, all nightlife businesses in Singapore will be allowed to fully reopen from April 19, with Covid-19 safety measures in place, said the authorities on Monday (April 4).
Nightlife establishments – namely bars, pubs, karaoke establishments, discotheques and nightclubs – will be subject to safe management measures (SMMs), including vaccination-differentiated SMMs (VDS), said the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) and Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in a joint statement.
For nightlife establishments such as nightclubs and discotheques where there is dancing, a negative antigen rapid test (ART) supervised by a Ministry of Health-approved test provider – either in person or remotely – will be required for patrons before entry.
A negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test result is also allowed.
The Covid-19 test will be valid for 24 hours from the time of the test result, said the ministries.
Patrons must get tested at most 24 hours before the end of the attendance at the event or activity.
Testing will not apply to visitors or staff, such as employees or contractors.
The latest move for the nightlife sector comes as several SMM rules were eased last week, after the daily number of Covid-19 cases reported started to decline from late-February.
Since March 29, the 10.30pm cut-off for alcohol sales and consumption at food and beverage (F&B) establishments has been lifted.
Live performances also resumed at all venues, along with the screening of live broadcast programmes and recorded entertainment at F&B outlets.
MTI and MHA said on Monday that all nightlife businesses will have to adhere to the following SMMs.
In line with national guidelines, maximum group size is capped at 10 fully vaccinated people for places where checks on vaccination status have been done at entrances.
While mask wearing is required indoors, it is optional outdoors.
Additionally, a safe distance of at least 1m will have to be kept between individuals or groups when masks are off.
Capacity limits for large settings or events with more than 1,000 people – where masks are kept on and there is no safe distancing – are at 75 per cent. Those with fewer than 1,000 people will have no capacity limits.
Enforcement agencies will continue to monitor the compliance of these measures, said the authorities. In the event of breaches, businesses will be liable for enforcement action, such as closure orders.
Under the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) Act 2020, individuals who do not comply with a direction given by an enforcement officer can be jailed for up to six months, fined up to $10,000, or both.
Partygoers and businesses welcomed the long-awaited reopening.
Regular clubgoers such as assistant marketing manager Ng Yun Xuan, 31, are unfazed by the prospect of having to take a pre-entry ART.
“I wouldn’t mind going for a test at all,” said Ms Ng, who used to frequent clubs at least twice a week pre-pandemic.
“A great night out with nine of my closest friends would outweigh the inconvenience of doing an ART. We can now party and party responsibly,” she said.
“In the last two years, DJs have had to pivot to things like live streams, but we are social creatures and nothing beats a live set.”
Others such as Ms Jona Neo, who works in the sustainability field, are already making plans for the week of April 19 at venues such as Headquarters at Boat Quay.
“I’m definitely looking forward to... fun crowds, pulsing beats and the pure energy that comes with dancing in a throng of happy faces,” said Ms Neo, who declined to give her age.
She used to visit now-shuttered clubs such as Nineteen80 and Kilo Lounge weekly.
Mr Bryan Ong, managing director of Strumm’s Holding, which owns Ipanema World Music Bar in Orchard Towers, said he cannot wait to welcome his staff and patrons back.
“The cash flow will also help to repay my company loans that have accumulated over the past two years,” he said.
Nightclubs such as Ce La Vi, located atop Marina Bay Sands integrated resort, are hoping for more clarity on the new rules and testing protocols.
“We remain optimistic that some normalcy will soon be returning to our industry, albeit with expected and justified safety concerns, and newly required protocols,” said Ce La Vi co-founder, Mr Harry Apostolides.
Singapore Nightlife Business Association president Nasen Thiagarajan said that the association is still ironing out details with the authorities, such as guidelines for pre-entry testing and if patrons can dance with their masks off.
“We’re still working out the terms and conditions, but the main thing is to make sure everyone is enjoying themselves safely,” said Mr Thiagarajan.