Bars, clubs, cinemas and theatres, already reeling from measures such as social distancing and capacity limits imposed just last week, were caught off guard by the announcement that all such entertainment venues will be closed from 11.59pm tomorrow until April 30.
The two largest cinema chains here, Golden Village and Shaw Theatres, said last night that they will be temporarily closing their cinemas from Friday until April 30, in line with efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
Both operators said all customers holding on to tickets for affected screenings will be refunded.
Those who made online purchases will be automatically refunded within four weeks, while those who bought tickets via the box office or automated ticketing machines should hold on to their tickets for a refund when operations at the cinemas resume.
Theatre groups, too, have taken a hit.
The Finger Players' play, Citizen X, which was to have opened tomorrow at the Drama Centre Black Box, will now be cancelled.
Director Oliver Chong, 43, said: "We are still carrying on with our technical rehearsal with heavy hearts for video archival so that we don't waste everything."
Ivan Heng, founder and artistic director of Wild Rice, which opened its new theatre space at Funan Mall last August, was resigned when he spoke to The Straits Times from hospital, where he is recovering from knee surgery.
Wild Rice had been struggling with increasingly tough social distancing measures through its opening season, but the new theatre closure rule has scuppered plans for two upcoming productions.
"This is it. We kept the lights on as long as we could," said Heng, 56.
The lights will go out at clubs too for the time being.
Singapore's largest nightclub, Marquee Singapore, which is at Marina Bay Sands and can hold a few thousand people, had shut its doors from March 13.
Zouk in Clarke Quay has remained open all this while, but said it will "provide full cooperation to support measures that the Government has decided".
Its chief executive officer Andrew Li, 37, added that the club has, for the past few weeks, proactively implemented safety measures such as stepping up sanitisation, giving out face masks, temperature screening and travel history checks.
He said the group, which employs more than 200 employees, will do its best to ensure that its workers can "take care of their livelihoods in these uncertain times".
But several bars that The Straits Times approached were unsure if the new rules on closures would affect them as they operate under restaurant and not bar licences.
Meanwhile, cinema-and club-goers expressed disappointment over the closures.
Tech recruiter and restaurant owner Ibrahim Khater, 29, who visits clubs or bars twice or thrice a week, said "the closures will have a major impact on my social life, and it is quite difficult to imagine not being in a lively atmosphere for a month".
Pre-school teacher Claire Chan, 29, said the cinema closures are not surprising, considering the spike in Covid-19 cases.
"However, it does limit my weekend plans, and I am slightly disappointed," she said.
But another 29-year-old pre-school teacher, who wanted to be known only as Ziyu, supported the move to close entertainment venues. "The longer this drags on, the more psychologically challenging it is for all of us," she said.
- Additional reporting by John Lui, Ong Sor Fern and Chloe Kok