Nightclubs in pilot scheme to have cap of 100 patrons

The pilot for pubs and bars is expected to kick off next month, and in January for karaoke establishments and nightclubs. Clubs that are part of the pilot will have a capacity limit of 100 people in two separate zones of 50 people each, while karaoke
The pilot for pubs and bars is expected to kick off next month, and in January for karaoke establishments and nightclubs. Clubs that are part of the pilot will have a capacity limit of 100 people in two separate zones of 50 people each, while karaoke establishments can have groups of up to five people.ST FILE PHOTO

Clubbing and karaoke under the Government's proposed nightlife pilot programme will be open only to local residents and those with work passes, who must show proof of a Covid-19 test taken in the 24 hours before they can enter a joint.

Clubs that are part of the pilot will have a capacity limit of 100 people in two separate zones of 50 people each. Along with masking up on the dance floor, customers will have to stay 2m apart from other groups, indicated by floor markings and barriers. No live entertainment will be allowed.

Meanwhile, karaoke establishments can have groups of up to five people in enclosed rooms that will have to be disinfected and aired for 15 minutes between groups. Eating and drinking will be allowed within the rooms.

In both types of venues, no host will be allowed to interact with customers.

The proposed safe management measures for patronising nightclubs and karaoke joints, as well as the conditions for businesses to pivot and exit the industry, were among details shared by the Singapore Nightlife Business Association (SNBA) in a press conference yesterday.

Last week, the Government said up to 25 establishments can participate in a two-to three-month pilot for entertainment venues to reopen here, with strict safe management measures in place.

The pilot for pubs and bars is expected to kick off next month, and next January for karaoke establishments and nightclubs. Under the pilot, pubs and bars will be subject to the same rules as restaurants, and their customers will not be required to undergo pre-entry Covid-19 testing.

SNBA said it has received around 60 queries since last Friday from businesses wanting to participate in the pilot programme. While there has been much "interest and excitement" in the pilot, SNBA president Joseph Ong cautioned that participation will be "onerous", given the strict rules.

Mr Ong likened it to a "phase one clinical trial, where the samples are very small, and the observation period rather long, with possible changes in the test parameters along the way".

"The chances are low that they will be selected, and the trial requires extreme planning and care," he said.

The final decision on which establishments will be selected for the pilot will be made jointly by the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Businesses that are part of the pilot will have to bear the costs of Covid-19 tests for patrons, which the association estimates to be between $30 and $100 per test.

"We are hoping that whoever comes to us with proposals for the pilot takes into account that customers are likely going to have to absorb the cost of the tests," said Mr Ong.

SNBA said it will look into partnering clinics that do testing, in hopes of reducing costs.

Along with an industry briefing on available options for business owners, SNBA said it will release an online form tomorrow for nightlife businesses interested in joining the pilot. Applications for karaoke establishments will be handled by the Singapore Entertainment Affiliation.

The Government announced last week that nightlife establishments which are not participating in the pilots can apply for financial support packages to either pivot to food and beverage (F&B) operations or other commercial uses with a grant of up to $50,000 from Enterprise Singapore.

They can also choose to exit, with a one-off payment of $30,000 to defray business cessation costs. Applications for both will have to be done by March 31.

So far, SNBA has received around 90 queries about pivoting and exiting options, the former of which includes a 12-month temporary change of licence - from nightlife to F&B or commercial business - which will be expedited.

The pivot grant will support costs such as renovations and consultancy fees, and includes a 20 per cent cash advance.

As the nightlife scene contends with being among the last few industries to reopen, SNBA secretary Andrew Ing said he hopes the pilot programme can be a template to kick-start the recovery process to reopen nightlife businesses safely.

"It's about trying to find something that's going to work in the industry, in the long term, until a vaccine is found," said Mr Ing.

"We're also hoping that operators will come up with their own innovative ideas for how their customers will be kept safe."

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 10, 2020, with the headline 'Nightclubs in pilot scheme to have cap of 100 patrons'. Subscribe