Higher wage subsidies will be given to food and beverage (F&B) businesses under the Jobs Support Scheme (JSS) as they will be among the hardest-hit by the latest Covid-19 restrictions, Education Minister Lawrence Wong said yesterday.
Mr Wong, who takes over the finance portfolio from today, said that hawkers and coffee shop stallholders who are tenants of government agencies will also benefit from a one-month rental waiver.
At a virtual media conference yesterday, the authorities stipulated that dining in at eateries will not be allowed from tomorrow until June 13, among other curbs that are meant to stem the growing number of Covid-19 community cases in recent weeks.
Dining in at food outlets is a higher-risk activity, with customers often eating for prolonged periods in close proximity with one another, with their masks off, the Ministry of Health said in a statement.
All eateries, including hawker centres and foodcourt stalls in indoor and outdoor areas, will be able to offer only 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. "Businesses that will be the hardest-hit will be in the food and beverage sector because of the restriction on dining in.
"In view of this new restriction, the Government will increase the Jobs Support Scheme support rate to 50 per cent for F&B firms, which will be an increase from the 10 per cent support applicable today."
The 50 per cent support rate will apply to 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, said Mr Wong.
Hawkers and coffee shop stallholders who are self-employed and do not benefit from the JSS will receive a one-month 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," said Mr Wong.
The JSS was introduced last year to help companies retain workers during the pandemic. It was extended in this year's Budget for sectors that continue to be hard-hit, such as aviation and food services.
In a Facebook post yesterday, Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing, who takes on the education portfolio from today, urged Singaporeans not to rush to buy groceries or other essentials.
He said 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," he said.