SINGAPORE - Cleaning businesses will receive a six-month licensing extension from the National Environment Agency (NEA) in order to lessen their administrative workload amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Companies that have received awards under the Enhanced Clean Mark Accreditation Scheme will also receive an automatic six-month extension on their accreditation status.
This initiative was announced by Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources, on Wednesday (March 11), and applies to companies whose licences will expire between March 1 this year and Feb 28 next year.
Speaking at the SG Cares Appreciation event for environmental service workers at Republic Polytechnic, Dr Khor said the Government recognises the importance of the environmental services sector and their contributions, particularly during the coronavirus outbreak.
"Since the onset of Covid-19, government agencies, businesses and premise owners across Singapore have stepped up efforts to ensure high standards of cleanliness and hygiene. This has inevitably led to high demands for the environmental services industry and our cleaners have had to increase the frequency and rigour of their cleaning regimes," said Dr Khor.
"We hope that this (licence extension) will help alleviate the administrative burden for these businesses and allow them to focus their efforts on enhanced cleaning and sanitation," she added.
More than 1,200 cleaning businesses will benefit from the licence extension. Nearly 190 of them have been awarded the Clean Mark Silver and Clean Mark Gold under the accreditation scheme as of Jan 31 this year.
The cleaning business licence, which is issued by NEA, is valid for one year and renewable on a yearly basis. It costs $130 to renew each year.
Meanwhile, the accreditation scheme has been in place since 2012 and participation in it is voluntary. The award given under this scheme is also valid for one year and renewable on a yearly basis.
Mr Thong Jong Woei, director of Marvel Clean, which employs about 80 cleaners, said the extension is timely and welcomed by the industry. "Everyone's workload is increasing because of the current situation. It usually takes about a month for us to get ready for licence renewal, so with this (extension), we can really focus on what needs to be done on the frontline," he said.
Ms Faith Wong, head of industrial relations at ISS Facility Services, which employs more than 5,000 staff, said the move is a "big relief for large cleaning companies which have a big workload".
At the event, students from Republic Polytechnic prepared NTUC vouchers and designed thank-you cards as tokens of appreciation for their cleaners on campus. They also collected appreciation notes from the school community and displayed them to show their support.
Dr Khor said that since that no one knows for certain how long the coronavirus situation will last the best way to show care and consideration for one another is to adopt good personal habits and be socially responsible.
"When we do our part as individuals, we will help alleviate our cleaners' workload," she added.