Only 18 out of 400 ex-nightlife outlets given F&B govt support package; none is part of KTV Covid-19 cluster

Many businesses and the Singapore Nightlife Business Association had appealed to the Government to allow them to switch to other permissible activities. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Only 18 former nightlife outlets have been given Enterprise Singapore (ESG) support packages to switch to food and beverage operations, and none of them is part of the growing KTV Covid-19 cluster.

These include 10 former bars and pubs, six nightclubs and discos, and two karaoke establishments that were issued grants to pivot to food and beverage operations.

More than 400 nightlife outlets have switched their operations to other approved uses.

ESG, which supports enterprise development, and the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI), in a joint statement on Wednesday (July 21), sought to clarify comments and misconceptions about recent breaches of safe management measures by illegal KTV clubs masquerading as food and beverage outlets, which resulted in the spread of Covid-19 cases.

Many businesses and the Singapore Nightlife Business Association appealed to the Government to allow them to switch to other permissible activities, such as food and beverage, office spaces and fitness centres, after nightlife establishments were banned from operating from March 27 last year due to the pandemic, said MTI and ESG.

Considering the challenges faced by the industry, the Government allowed selected establishments to switch to these other activities from October last year, they said.

In order to do so, nightlife establishments had to obtain approvals from the authorities and submit a business plan, including details of operational requirements.

Successful applicants were eligible for a pivot grant of up to $50,000 from ESG, to help with costs incurred in the business' transition, such as equipment and consultancy costs.

These grants are given on a reimbursement basis and disbursed after evaluation, said the statement.

"Each application was carefully assessed on its own merit, taking into consideration factors such as the applicant's operational plan," it added.

These establishments are inspected by agencies such as the ESG, the Urban Redevelopment Authority and the Singapore Tourism Board, in collaboration with the police, to ensure compliance with all pandemic measures.

"Agencies will not hesitate to take firm enforcement action against errant operators," said MTI and ESG.

A multi-agency crackdown is under way to weed out errant nightlife operators among KTV lounges, nightclubs and pubs.

More than 400 of such establishments were told to suspend operations for two weeks from last Friday as an additional layer of precaution, following the emergence of a Covid-19 cluster linked to KTV lounges.

Nightlife businesses that have pivoted to operate as food and beverage outlets may be able to reopen after a two-week suspension from last Friday, said Finance Minister Lawrence Wong, who is co-chairman of the multi-ministry task force tackling Covid-19.

This is granted that checks by government agencies show Covid-19 protocols are in place and strictly adhered to, he said on July 19 at a press conference held by the task force.

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