3 Things For Business Owners To Be ‘Positive’ About From PM Lee Address On Singapore’s COVID-19 Situation

Since the first COVID-19 case was reported in Singapore, life in Singapore has never been the same as it used to be. In the working world, coming to the office and travelling overseas for business reasons has now been replaced by virtual meetings and work-from-home (WFH).

To curb the spread of COVID-19 in our country, the government has introduced at various points in time over the past 20 months different measures to slow the infection of COVID-19.

We had the first major lockdown during the circuit breaker from April to June 2020. Subsequently, Singapore staged a strong recovery after that.

Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) was introduced in May 2021 and was initially meant to last till June 2021. However, unexpected breakouts led the government to revert to tighter measures multiple times since. Till now, dining in is restricted to only 2 pax, and work-from-home remains the default for workers who can do so.

With PM Lee’s latest address, here are three things we think business owners in Singapore can feel optimistic about.

Read Also: Why Circuit Breaker In 2020 May Not Have Killed Businesses – But Uncertainties From Easing And Tightening Measures In 2021 Just Might

#1 Reiterating Singapore’s Commitment To Reopen (Again)

The key message of PM’s Lee address to the nation was that Singapore must open its economy to remain competitive in the global world. While the latest restrictions were needed to protect Singapore’s healthcare system, it does not change the government’s position of wanting to reopen its economy, both domestically and internationally.

Rather than focusing on a ‘zero-COVID’ strategy, PM said that while Singapore must continue to respect COVID-19, we can’t be paralysed by fear either. Singapore cannot stay locked down indefinitely and social and economic activities have to resume.

For business owners, particularly those in the F&B, retail and hospitality sector, this would be welcome news as it signals that there is a commitment to keep the economy open, as far as possible. However, PM Lee did not rule out that we may need to tap on the brakes again if need be.

#2 Simplified Rules Should Make HR Easier

As written earlier this week, there are many types of notices that employees may be issued with currently. These include QO, LOA, SHN, HRW, HRA, all of which could potentially prevent an employee from working in the office or even at home.

Replacing this would be a new 1-2-3 protocol with the focus on home recovery as the default arrangement. For example, an individual who now receives a health risk warning (HRW) can test himself with an ART. If he tests negative, he can continue with normal activities for the day.

From a manpower point of view, we believe this would make it a lot easier for companies to track the status and conditions of their employees, as opposed to trying to figure out which type of notices their employees are on. Companies and their employees can then agree whether an individual can continue working from home if they are asymptomatic, or should be on medical leave.

Read Also: Home Recovery; QO; LOA; SHN; HRW; HRA: How Should Employers Treat Their Employees’ Who Cannot Come To Work

#3 More Vaccinated Travel Lanes (VTL) To Be Introduced

As part of its plan to reopen the borders, Singapore will be introducing 8 more vaccinated travel lanes (VTLs), allowing those who are vaccinated to enter Singapore without having to serve quarantine. These countries include the U.S, Canada, Denmark, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK.

For business owners that need to frequently travel to these countries, the VTLs will make it a lot easier to resume business travel, and to promote Singapore as a country where investors, companies and workers can come to easily for work-related reasons.

In particular, for companies in the Meeting, Incentive Travel, Conventions & Exhibition (MICE) space, the VTLs will be welcome news.

Read Also: Cost Guide To Vaccinated Travel Lanes

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