How One Sector – Singapore’s Nightlife – Can Undo Much Progress In Containing COVID-19

Singapore KTV cluster

It’s unfair to blame just one business sector in Singapore for undoing much of the progress in containing COVID-19. However, given the blow-up in cases – to 238 between 12 July and 17 July 2021 from 11 cases between 6 July to 11 July 2021 – it is not far-fetched to conclude that the businesses allowed to expand operations likely led to this increase. 

One of the business sectors that is the main culprits is the F&B establishments. Then, it’s again unfair to blame them. It’s actually the growing KTV cluster – at 148 cases and counting, forming the largest active cluster – that’s been contributing to this rising numbers.

Many of us will then frown upon these so-called “pivoted nightlife establishments”. But, according to the latest statement by MOH, “our epidemiological investigations have found that there is likely ongoing transmission at” six KTV lounges/clubs 

  • Quinn KTV (207A Syed Alwi Road);
  • Club AURA (442 Orchard Road);
  • Club Ion (271 Bukit Timah Road); 
  • Icon II (35 Selegie Road);
  • Club Lucky Thai (5001 Beach Road); and
  • M. Sakhon (5001 Beach Road). 

Is it fair to say that it’s the fault of just these 6 KTV lounges/clubs? There are probably other factors. Without any proof, it’s also logical to think that other similar establishment had similar errant practices, but just don’t have cases linked to them. Other businesses that saw easing of safe management measures from 12 July also may have contributed to the rising numbers. But for now, these 6 KTV lounges and clubs would have to take a large share of the blame.

Read Also: Nightlife Businesses: The Forgotten Sector In Singapore

At the same time, most other businesses were trying to comply with safe management measures (SMM). Because of these 6 KTV lounges and clubs, all “pivoted nightlife establishments” have to stop operating from 16 July to 30 July 2021. This will impact nearly 400 such “pivoted nightlife establishments”.

Not only that, other businesses that were already trying their best to comply with safe management measures have also been impacted. 

Under the same classification, F&B establishments will now only be able to accept groups of up to 2 dine-in customers (down from 5). Certain F&B establishments that can choose to introduce “vaccination-differentiated group sizes” may still accept up to 5 dine-in customers who are either:

  • A fully vaccinated person;
  • A person who has recovered from COVID-19 (within 270 days);
  • An unvaccinated person who has a valid negative PET result for the duration of his dining-in; or
  • A child aged 12 years and below.       

Read Also: Pre-Event Testing (PET): How Much Does it Cost and Which Businesses Need to Implement it?

Outside of F&B, gyms and fitness studios are again looking at more stringent safe management measures. These businesses, without flouting any rules, are also looked upon as higher-risk activities because it is mask-off and requires close interaction between people. 

For outdoor activities and indoor mask-on activities, groups of up to 5 can continue, as well as classes of up to 50. This is dependent on the size of the venue, but not dependent on vaccination status.

For indoor mask-off activities, group sizes will be reduced to 2 persons, and classes of up to 30 persons. This is without the need for testing or vaccination. However, with testing and vaccination, group sizes can continue to operate at up to 5 persons.

On a broader level, work-from-home remains the default work arrangement. There is no change to this. However, people may have been expecting this measure to be the next to be relaxed if COVID-19 was contained.

The government will again be providing targeted support measures – predominantly via the Jobs Support Scheme (JSS) – to affected businesses. While work-from-home will affect almost all businesses, the government currently does not view them as affected businesses. Only businesses that have specific restrictions imposed are typically considered affected businesses.

Read Also: It Hasn’t Been Business As Usual For “Non-Affected” Sectors In Singapore

Besides just businesses or our working lives, there is also repercussions on personal lives as measures such as the option for foreigners to enter Singapore via the familial ties lane is no longer available for boyfriends or girlfriends of Singapore citizens and permanent residents. Similarly, many foreigner employees here may also harbour some fear that they cannot come back to Singapore – whether because of current or even new changes to travel measures – even if they want to go back home to see their family.

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