Pivoted nightlife establishments face stricter measures after breaches of Covid-19 rules

Those whose licences have been revoked will need to cease operations immediately until the nightlife sector is allowed to reopen in the future. ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

SINGAPORE - Former nightlife operators can now lose their food licences if they commit serious breaches of Covid-19 safe management measures (SMM) under new regulations announced on Friday morning (May 14).

Those whose licences have been revoked will need to cease operations immediately until the nightlife sector is allowed to reopen in the future or until their reapplication for a a new food licence is approved, said a statement by the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment (MSE).

This comes after 10 food & beverage (F&B) premises, including six former nightlife operators, had been ordered to close.

The breaches include failing to prevent large groups of patrons from intermingling, employing hostesses and allowing live entertainment such as the playing of musical instruments and games like dice and billiards.

As a result, nightlife operators who intend to convert their establishment to an F&B outlet in future must file a "Change of Use" application with the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) to obtain planning permission.

This includes submitting a proposed business concept, layout plan and removal of any bar-related signages.

The Singapore Food Agency will process the licence application only after URA's approval for the premises to be converted.

Previously, the URA had allowed nightlife establishments such as pubs, bars, nightclubs, discotheques and karaoke lounges to temporarily pivot to F&B operations, given that they had not been allowed to operate in their original form since March last year.

Those who have already pivoted will have to apply for a change of use at the end of the one-year validity of their temporary licence change, if they intend to continue as an F&B business.

The authorities can also choose to revoke the public entertainment licence or liquor licence of nightlife operators, which will prevent them from providing these services even when there is a class resumption of the nightlife sector, the statement added.

As at Friday, 406 nightlife operators have received the SFA's foodshop or snack counter licence and temporarily pivoted to F&B operations.

To defray qualifying costs incurred during the "Change of Use" process, nightlife establishments can continue to apply for a grant of up to $50,000 from Enterprise Singapore (ESG) via the Singapore Nightlife Business Association until Sept 30.

Separately, The Dempsey Project in Dempsey Hill and Two Men Bagel House in Holland Village were among 20 F&B outlets fined for breaching SMMs.

Three F&B outlets were also fined $2,000 for repeated offences including playing videos for customers, providing dice games and poker cards and providing a self-service buffet. They are Central Perk Cafe in Central Mall, Steamov in Beach Road and The Malayan Council in Winstedt Road.

A total of 30 people were also fined for breaching SMMs, such as gathering in groups of more than five, last weekend in parks and beaches.

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