Updated: Nov 30, 2020
Minister Lawrence Wong's announcement that "Nightlife venues unlikely to open when Phase 3 begins" on 20th October 2020, must have dashed the hopes of many business owners who were still holding out for a re-opening in Phrase 3.
Even the much publicised karaoke chain Teo Heng started to pay out only half salaries for their employees from October 2020, an indication that even the financial strength of supposed big boys in the industry are waning.
Can we blame business owners of night life entertainment businesses for thinking they have been foresaken, given that all these businesses have been shut since March 2020 with zero revenue and running costs?
Not much data can be found for the contribution of the night live entertainment industry to Singapore's GDP and we can only assume that it is small since this segment serves mainly the local market. It's contribution is likely not to significant in the area of employment.
To the best of my knowledge, related services linked to the nightlife industry have been quite severely hit, such as alcohol distributors, transport services like PHV and taxi drivers as well as valet businesses.
There is some light at the end of the tunnel now with the latest announcements on 7th November 2020 of a pilot reopen selected establishments starting with pubs and bars in December and karaoke establishments and nightclubs in January 2021.
With the pilot test comes regulations such as:
Customers entering the premises would have to test negative for Covid-19 within the last 24-hours, via a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test or an antigen rapid test (ART).
Customers must wear masks at all times, even while on the dance floor or singing at karaoke joints.
Alcohol cannot be sold, served or consumed after 10.30pm in line with current regulations
Closed-circuit television cameras covering all common areas and rooms used for activities will need to be activated. Recordings from them, stored for at least 28 days, will be up for regular review by enforcement agencies. Those who breach the measures will not only face penalties under the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) Act 2020, but may be removed from the pilot.
Business Ownerscan apply for the following help with the new announcments:
Nightlife businesses that wish to pivot to F&B or other commercial uses such as offices or gyms will be able to apply for a grant of up to $50,000 from Enterprise Singapore (ESG) until March 31 next year. This is to make up for costs incurred during the pivoting process, such as equipment and third-party consultancy costs.
Businesses looking to exit can apply to ESG until March 31 next year for an ex gratia payment of $30,000 to defray the costs of the cessation of business. For any retrenchment benefits paid to local employees, employers can also seek financial support for one month of salary paid to each employee.
Will the pilot be successful and how many business owners will still continue to perservere and fight the highly unfavourable head winds? If so, can businesses still remain viable to attract enough paying customers with so many restrictions in place?
All these remain to be seen. BookValet management team are hoping for a recovery and a re-opening of night life activities that can greatly boost it's ailing business.
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