With Rising COVID-19 transmissions in Singapore, the government announced a “Stabilisation Phase” From 27 September 2021 to 24 October 2021. This tightened safe management measures sent employees back to 100% work from home. At the same time, the government also announced a slew of enhancements to existing support measures.
On 20 October 2021 – 4 days before we were due for the end of the “Stabilisation Phase” – the government announced that it would be extended from 25 October to 21 November 2021. Finance Minister and co-chair of the COVID-19 taskforce, Lawrence Wong, clarified that this was a result of two main healthcare indicators: 1) nearly 90% of isolation beds in Singapore’s hospital system have been filled; and 2) more than two-thirds of our ICU beds have been filled. Thus, we “face considerable risk of the healthcare system being overwhelmed”.
This is another blow to individuals and businesses. Minister Wong also said that this is “probably the most difficult phase in our journey through COVID-19 so far”. Within the announcement, Minister Wong also mentioned that the government will enhance the Stabilisation package.
Here are 4 things businesses need to know about the enhanced “Stabilisation Phase” package.
#1 A Very Similar $640 Million Enhanced “Stabilisation Phase” Package Announced, Compared To Last Round
A total $640 million budget for the enhancement of the “Stabilisation Package” is similar to the last round. This also means that businesses can expect a very similar package to what was given during initial “stabilisation Phase” from 27 September to 24 October 2021.
Minister Wong mentioned that this spending would come from higher than expected revenues collected in the year-to-date. Thus, there will be no additional drawdown on Past Reserves.
#2 Jobs Support Scheme (JSS) Extended At 25% Level For Significantly Affected Sectors
Similar to the support measure announced during the initial tightening to “Stabilisation Phase”, the JSS has been extended from 25 October to 21 November. This will be at the 25% level for affected sectors.
They include: Food & Beverage (F&B), gyms and fitness studios, performing arts & arts education, retail, cinemas, museums, art galleries, historical sites, family entertainment and tourism.
While the current “Stabilisation Phase” was referred to as “probably the most difficult phase in our journey through COVID-19 so far”, the JSS support measure is less generous this time.
Another thing to note is that there were two classifications of sectors previously: 1) those that were closed or with enhanced safe management measures; and 2) those that were significantly affected. In the current “Stabilisation Phase” this has been streamlined to a single classification.
Another to note is that JSS support for all other sectors ended in September 2021. This means that previously listed Tier 1 sectors, such as Aviation and Aerospace and Tier 2 sectors such as Marine & Offshore are no longer receiving any JSS support.
#3 Further 0.5 Month Rental Support Scheme (RSS) Extension
The government has also extended the Rental Support Scheme (RSS) for another 0.5 month. This will be the fourth payout under the RSS in 2021.
Tenants in government owned commercial properties will receive a 0.5 month rental waiver. Cooked food and market stallholders in centres managed by NEA or NEA-appointed operators will also receive a 0.5 month rental rebate.
Qualifying tenants and owner-occupiers in privately-owned commercial properties will receive 0.5 months rental cash relief payout under the RSS.
#4 COVID-19 Driver Relief Fund (CDRF) Enhanced In November And Extended To December 2021
The COVID-19 Driver Relief Fund (CDRF) was also enhanced in the current slew of support measures. Previously, the CDRF was extended to November 2021, and will not be extended to December 2021.
The CDRF payout will also be enhanced. Eligible taxi drivers and private hire car (PHC) drivers will receive $10 a day in November 2021, and $5 a day in December 2021. For the November payout, this is a $5 enhancement from the previously announced $5-a-day payout. For the December 2021 payout, this is a new extension.
#5 Many Other Business Also Affected – But Will Not Be Provided Any Government Support
We all know that 100% work-from-home will affect most sectors in Singapore. However, there is a clear stance from the government not to support all sectors, and concentrate support to sectors that need it most.
As Singapore extends the “Stabilisation Phase”, it is also worth noting that just two weeks earlier, it opened up for travel more aggressively. On 9 October 2021, Singapore expanded its Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) scheme to 11 countries, from 2 countries previously. This may have a positive effect on certain parts of the tourism sector. Nevertheless, there is no guarantee as countries such as the U.S has placed Singapore on its Level 4 risk category – its highest risk level category.
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