Higher wage subsidies for food and beverage businesses after dining in banned for a month: Lawrence Wong

Dining in at eateries will not be allowed from Sunday (May 16) until June 13, among other curbs. PHOTO: TAMIL MURASU

SINGAPORE - Higher wage subsidies will be given to food and beverage businesses under the Jobs Support Scheme, said Education Minister Lawrence Wong, as they will be among the hardest hit by the latest Covid-19 restrictions.

Hawkers and coffee shop stallholders who are tenants of government agencies will also benefit from a one-month rental waiver, he added.

At a press conference on Friday (May 14), the authorities stipulated that dining in at eateries will not be allowed from Sunday (May 16) until June 13, among other curbs. The steps are to stem the growing number of community cases in recent weeks.

Dining in is considered a higher-risk setting, with customers often dining for prolonged periods in close proximity with each other with their masks off, said the Ministry of Health in a statement.

All eateries, including hawker centres and food court stalls in indoor and outdoor areas, will only be able to offer takeaway and delivery options during this period.

Mr Wong, who is the co-chair of the Covid-19 multi-ministry task force, said the measures will pose a significant inconvenience for many people.

"I think the businesses that will be the hardest hit will be the food and beverage sector because of the restriction for dining in.

"So, in view of this new restriction, the Government will increase the Jobs Support Scheme support rate to 50 per cent for food and beverage firms, and this will be an increase from the 10 per cent support which is applicable today.

The 50 per cent support rate will be for the first $4,600 of gross monthly wages paid to local employees. The increase in support will be applicable during the period for which dining in is prohibited, added Mr Wong.

Hawkers and coffee shop stallholders who are self-employed and do not benefit from the Jobs Support Scheme will benefit from one month of rental waiver. This is for hawker stalls and coffee shop tenants of government agencies.

"We also strongly encourage commercial landlords to support their food and beverage tenants during this period," added Mr Wong.

In a Facebook post on Friday, Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing urged Singaporeans not to rush to buy groceries or other essentials.

All retail outlets, including supermarkets, will remain open during this period of heightened alert, he wrote.

"Our stocks are adequate. Our supply lines are intact. Let us continue to remember to buy only what we need and look out for the more vulnerable among us."

He said that the government was aware that the latest measures may be disappointing to some. "But we hope that by acting swiftly and in a targeted manner, we will be able to bring community transmissions back to a minimum that would allow us to resume our economic and social activities in a safe manner.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.