Businesses hit by new Covid-19 curbs to get $650m in govt support, no draw on reserves

The Jobs Support Scheme will be enhanced from Sept 27 to Oct 24 for affected sectors, such as retail and F&B.
The Jobs Support Scheme will be enhanced from Sept 27 to Oct 24 for affected sectors, such as retail and F&B.ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

SINGAPORE - Businesses such as food and beverage (F&B) outlets and retailers will receive about $650 million in wage subsidies, rental waivers and other forms of support to help them cope with the tightened Covid-19 curbs.

The sum will be funded from the higher-than-expected revenues collected by the Government to date, with no further draw on past reserves, said Finance Minister Lawrence Wong on Friday (Sept 24).

This comes amid the tighter safe management measures that will start from next Monday and last till Oct 24, including group sizes being reduced from five to two people for dining in.

At a press conference on Friday held by the multi-ministry task force tackling Covid-19, Mr Wong said: "We recognise that businesses will be impacted by these restrictions. They are not the same as the heightened alert restrictions because businesses can still open. 

"But with the reduction of group sizes, there will be an impact on F&B, retail and other businesses that are dependent on footfall, so the Government will provide a support package to assist the affected businesses."

This includes enhancing the Jobs Support Scheme (JSS) for sectors such as F&B, performing arts and arts education, and gyms and fitness studios.

Firms in these sectors will receive 25 per cent of wage support from Sept 27 to Oct 24. Such businesses had previously received 10 per cent of support from Aug 19 to Aug 31.

The same enhanced wage support also applies to retailers, cinemas, museums, art galleries, operators of historical sites, as well as family entertainment and tourism businesses.

Tourism businesses include qualified licensed hotels, licensed travel agents, gated tourist attractions, cruise operators, regional ferry operators and meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (Mice) organisers.

Rental waivers will be dished out to eligible businesses, such as qualifying tenants on government-owned commercial properties. Those on privately owned commercial properties will also get a two-week rental waiver under the Rental Support Scheme.

This two-week rental waiver will be extended to cooked food and market stallholders in centres managed by the National Environment Agency (NEA) or NEA-appointed operators.

Taxi drivers and private-hire car drivers will be given support and receive $10 per vehicle per day in October and $5 per vehicle per day in November, with the extension of the Covid-19 Driver Relief Fund.

The extension to the fund will cost an additional $23.5 million and is expected to benefit about 50,000 drivers. This brings the total amount set aside by the Government for the taxi and private hire cars (PHC) sectors to about $500 million since February last year.

Similar to earlier payouts, drivers do not need to make an application, and those who are currently receiving such payouts will automatically receive the extended payouts through their operators.

Taxi drivers will continue to receive payouts in the form of rental rebates, while PHC drivers will receive the payouts through their e-wallets or directly into their bank accounts.

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