On 21 April, it was announced that home-based businesses had to abide by stricter regulations or to cease operations in this period. That triggered a petition signed by more than 73,000 people asking for a revision of restrictions on home-based businesses.
But on 2 May, the Government announced a change: home-based food businesses can resume operations on 12 May, provided that they comply with enhanced safety measures.
This spells good news for home-based food businesses, who can start accepting and preparing orders to be fulfilled after 12 May. But given that such changes were made quickly, it might have left some in confusion.
Here, we outline the guidelines of what home-based businesses are allowed to do before and after the restrictions are lifted.
What Constitutes As Home-Based Businesses?
Home-based businesses are regulated by the Housing & Development Board (HDB) and Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA).
If you wish to operate a small-scale formal business from your home, you fall under the Home-based Small Scale Business Scheme. You need not apply for this, nor do you have to register under the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA).
Examples of approved home-based businesses include sewing, baking, tuition, hairdressing, or work as a freelance artist, photographer, or writer.
Home-based businesses have to meet certain criteria too. It should not affect your neighbours’ living environment or cause any nuisance, involve the use of heavy equipment not intended for domestic use, require storage or movement of goods, or require additional staff (outside of your household). You also should not do physical or paid advertising for this business.
Given the current situation, this definition is important for various reasons. You might not be aware that your business operations is not adhering to the guidelines.
For instance, more successful home bakeries might be transporting baked goods in bulk, via vans or trucks. Or you might be promoting for Facebook or Instagram advertisements, when the guidelines are that your baked goods should be mainly sold to people you are familiar with.
Existing Restrictions On Home-Based Businesses (Before May 12)
Home-based businesses can only operate if it meets the criteria provided by MOH:
- The business must operate solely online, and does not require the business owner(s) and staff to leave their homes
- The business does not involve visitors/customers/third-party delivery partners at the premise for collection or delivery of goods
Home-based food businesses do not meet such regulations, thus must stop operations till 12 May. For those who continue to operate without meeting such criteria will face a $1,000 fine for a first offence. Repeat offenders will face higher fines or prosecution in court.
Guidelines For Home-Based Businesses (After May 12)
On May 2, it was announced that home-based food businesses can resume operations from May 12 onward, but only for delivery or collection.
Home-based private dining will not be allowed. Other home-based businesses that provide goods and services such as jewellery and textiles, and which involve customers or third-party delivery services to collect or deliver goods, must remain close.
Non-compliance will lead to a $1,000 fine, while repeat offenders will face higher fines or prosecution in court. Customers or third-party delivery providers who breach measures will face $300 fine, while repeat offenders will face a $1,000 fine or prosecution in court.
Businesses must also abide by safe management measures and comply with Singapore Food Agency’s guidelines.
The safe management measures are:
- Only delivery and collection of food orders allowed
- Only those living in the same address can assist with the food preparations
- Delivery/collection modes allowed are: self-collection, delivery by the business owner, or third party delivery companies
- Only contactless delivery/collection allowed. Avoid face-to-face interaction as far as possible, by placing the food on the gate. Otherwise, a distance of at least 1 metre should be maintained between parties at all time, and masks should be worn
- Collection of food must be by appointment only, to spread out collection time. Only one person should be collecting at a time
- Use cashless payment methods, such as PayNow or bank transfers. No physical exchange of cash.
- Use digital tools to enable speedier contact tracing – download and use the TraceTogether app
Businesses should also abide by Singapore Food Agency’s guidelines on food safety & hygiene practices.
Assistance Schemes Can Home-based Businesses Tap On
The MEWR has summed up these assistance schemes for those whose livelihoods are affected by the circuit breaker.
COVID-19 Support Grant
Singapore citizens or PRs can apply if they have lost their jobs, on involuntary no-pay leave for at least 3 months, or experience a 30% reduction in monthly salary.
For those who have lost their jobs or are on unpaid leave, this grant will provide up to $800 per month, for 3 months. It will depend on your last-drawn monthly salary. If you experience an income loss instead, the grant will be up to $500 per month, for 3 months.
Applications are open till 30 September.
You might have heard of the Temporary Relief Fund as well, which offers one-time assistance of $500. This grant was only available until April 2020. Thus, those who wish to apply for assistance schemes should register for the COVID-19 Support Grant instead.
Self-Employed Person Income Relief Scheme (SIRS)
If you have declared as a self-employed person on or before March 25 2020, you can apply for SIRS. This grant will provide you with a total of $9,000, distributed in three pay-outs.
For this scheme, your net trade income must be less than $100,000. If you draw income as an employee, it must be less than $2,300 per month. Lastly, you must not own two or more properties, and the annual value of your property must be less than $21,000.
You cannot apply for both SIRS and the COVID-19 Support Grant.
Workfare Special Payment
The Workfare Special Payment is a cash payout of $3,000, paid over two equal payments. It is only eligible for those who have received the Workfare Income Supplement payments in 2019.
You will be automatically assessed based on your CPF records, thus you need not apply for the Workfare Income Supplement. If you would like to know more, head to these respective pages: as an employee, a self-employed person, and an employer.
For the Malay/Muslim community
The Malay/Muslim community may also wish to tap on assistance schemes offered by various organisations here.
It was previously published that home-based food businesses can register with the Singapore Malay Chamber of Commerce & Industry (SMCCI) to automatically qualify for the Temporary Relief Fund. One might wish to take note that the said fund is currently closed for applications (till April 30 only) and that the registration is a paid membership. To apply for the SMCCI membership, head here.
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