F&B outlets that sell mainly drinks, snacks and desserts to shut

A queue at a hair salon along Geylang Road on April 21, 2020.
A queue at a hair salon along Geylang Road on April 21, 2020.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

All standalone food and beverage (F&B) outlets selling mainly drinks, snacks and desserts as well as hairdressing and barber shops will not be allowed to open from today until May 4.

This is part of a further tightening of businesses deemed essential during the circuit breaker, which has now been extended until June 1.

Separately, temperature screening will be done at all supermarkets and malls from today. Visitors will also have to provide their particulars for contact tracing, the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) said in a statement last night.

About 20 per cent of Singapore's workforce continue to commute to work during the circuit breaker as they are in essential services.

This proportion will be reduced to 15 per cent by reducing the number of services considered essential, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said yesterday.

"This will mean that all of us may face some degradation of services, or we may not be able to access F&B or certain services that we have become accustomed to," he said.

The move is however necessary, as many of the local infections that occurred after the circuit breaker began involved those working in essential services or who had family members who were, said Mr Wong.

"We do need our essential workers. We appreciate your contributions, but we have to reduce the numbers who are working."

For the F&B sector, standalone outlets - excluding those in hawker centres, foodcourts and coffee shops - that sell predominantly beverages, packaged snacks, confectioneries or desserts will have to shut, MTI said.

Eateries and food vending machines in parks, with the exception of hawker centres, must also close.

All other food establishments, including those that sell hot or cooked snacks or bread, may remain open for takeaway and delivery only.

Additional restrictions on selected consumer-facing businesses will also be put in place to further reduce customer interactions.

From today, optician shops can no longer accept walk-in customers, and must operate by appointment only. Pet supply stores and retail laundry services must also shut their physical stores, but may offer online sales and delivery.

The number of businesses allowed to have staff operating at their workplaces will also be reduced, particularly among those less critical for daily living or maintaining essential supply chains.

This means that some businesses will have to suspend on-site activities. MTI said that those affected will be notified and given 24 hours to wind up operations.

The closure of businesses formerly deemed essential, such as bubble tea shops and wine shops, will remain in effect until at least May 4.

This and other measures will be reviewed thereafter, with a gradual easing expected if there is a significant decline in local transmission numbers.

Businesses that remain open must however ensure safe distancing measures, bar the cross-deployment of staff to other outlets and log their workers' entry into and exit from the premises for contact tracing purposes. Those that do not implement or comply with the Government's safe distancing advisories may be ineligible for government grants, loans, tax rebates and other assistance, MTI warned.

A spokesman for the Restaurant Association of Singapore said it will be increasingly difficult for F&B outlets to survive with severely reduced revenue.

Despite the extension of wage support and foreign workers' levies through next month, more businesses will likely fail, particularly as some landlords are still dragging their feet on rental rebates, the association said.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 22, 2020, with the headline 'F&B outlets that sell mainly drinks, snacks and desserts to shut'. Print Edition | Subscribe