COVID-19 SPECIAL

Several motor workshops ordered to close as Government steps up Covid-19 measures

ComfortDelGro's Spark workshops are allowed to continue providing emergency repair services.
ComfortDelGro's Spark workshops are allowed to continue providing emergency repair services.ST PHOTO: KHALID BABA

SINGAPORE - Barbers and bubble tea shops are not the only ones affected by enhanced measures to stem the coronavirus outbreak.

Several motor workshops have been given up to 48 hours to close, including those which had previously received permission to remain open.

In response to queries by The Straits Times, the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) pointed to new rules which rescind permission given earlier to motor workshops to continue doing emergency repairs and servicing vehicles used for essential services.

The MTI said the move was based on a decision to reduce the movement of people further to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

"We are acutely aware that the circuit breaker will disrupt businesses and be painful, but it is also essential in the fight against Covid-19," the MTI said.

However, it is not a blanket ruling, with some workshops permitted to carry on.

Ms Jasmmine Wong, chief executive of Inchcape Singapore and Greater China, said Inchcape's Suzuki and Toyota operations are not affected by the change of rules.

"Every job we do, we request verification that it is approved before proceeding," she said, adding that Inchcape has been sticking strictly to all guidelines.

"We have not received any notice or rescind order at all."

ComfortDelGro's Spark workshops are also allowed to continue providing emergency repair services.

But several other workshops - including those operated by authorised vehicle dealers - had received e-mails from last Saturday (April 25) of the change.

 
 
 

Ford dealer Vantage got its notice on Monday morning.

Managing director Christopher Chin said the company is appealing, as it has supplied vehicles to the police as well as the military, and would like to be able to continue servicing those.

ST understands other affected authorised agents include multi-franchise group Wearnes Automotive, Nissan agent Tan Chong Motor and BMW agent Performance Motors.

Mr Sylvester Han, head of operations at independent workshop Car Doctor, said: "We were surprised because we were down to only two workers, from the usual five, so we thought we were safe.

"But, no choice. We just have to follow the rules and do our part in stopping this virus."

Workshops told to close said the business impact is not significant, as the volume of vehicles has shrunk by 80 per cent or more.

The MTI said the latest decision keeps the list of businesses that are permitted to operate to a minimum.

 
 
 

"Appeals will generally not be granted," it added.

Tyre shops are also affected. AL Tyres informed customers on Facebook that it will cease operations from Wednesday "till further notice".

"Those who have tyres issue have till Tuesday to solve all your problems," it added.

Stamford Tyres however, continues to operate, as it says its clients include bus operators SMRT and Tower Transit, and port operator PSA Corp - which provide essential services.