Live music allowed back in all venues in Singapore, including F&B establishments

The easing of restrictions takes effect March 29, though the nightlife sector has not been cleared to reopen

The Singapore government has announced that live music performances can return to all venues across the country from Tuesday (March 29).

The announcement was made during Minister of Finance Lawrence Wong’s speech on Thursday (March 24) following Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s COVID-19 address. Per Wong’s address, live music can be performed at all venues across the city-state, including F&B establishments.

This will mark the end of a two-year live music ban at dining spots across Singapore that began in April 2020 when the coronavirus pandemic began. Wong has also confirmed that outdoor performances and busking will also be allowed to return on March 29.

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However, the nightlife sector has not been cleared to reopen. The prospect of reopening nightspots like nightclubs and karaoke bars is still being reviewed, with an update expected in the coming weeks.

“There is one more area we are looking into, and that is the safe resumption of nightlife business. That includes bars, pubs, karaoke establishments, as well as nightclubs,” Wong said. “These are activities with higher risk of transmission, and it is also generally more difficult to comply with prevailing [safe management measures] 1 to 5 [regulations] in these settings.”

Watch Minister of Finance Lawrence Wong’s address below.

The official resumption of live music in Singapore comes after months of pilots of live performances, from full-capacity concerts to hybrid festivals. In January six music venues were approved to stage pilot concerts with full audience capacity and no social distancing.

Earlier this month, Member of Parliament Nadia Ahmad Samdin discussed the live music ban in F&B establishments in Parliament, calling for the government to “consider introducing balanced measures” that would enable the return of live music, while limiting the risk of transmitting COVID-19 while “performing on stage at an eatery that serves food and drink”.

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The prohibition of live music at F&B establishments was due to “a higher likelihood of mingling, talking, where food is being consumed with patrons who are unmasked”, according to a National Arts Council circular last updated on March 11.

Less than two weeks ago, Wong told The Business Times that it was “too early to say for now” whether the restrictions on live music and the sale of alcohol past 10.30pm could be lifted.

In his speech, PM Lee cited Singapore’s “strict regulations” over the past two years, the country’s high vaccination rate and the subsiding of the ongoing Omicron wave as reasons for the easing of restrictions (including Singapore’s mask mandate – face coverings will only be required indoors from March 29). Lee also noted the country’s eagerness to “move forward and live with COVID-19”.

In January, social media campaign #savemusicsg was launched by DJ Matty Wainwright, calling for clarity on the ban of live music and DJs in F&B establishments.

“All we’re asking for is answers and a roadmap back to work: what is the plan?” Wainwright told NME. “We know that hospitals aren’t being overrun, we know that we have gone past the peak of Omicron now and we know we have Formula 1 coming up later this year. Let’s discuss and action [sic] the next movements now, as this industry will take months to get back into gear.”

Earlier this month, #savemusicsg held a two-day livestream event that saw 21 local DJs perform across six empty F&B venues in Singapore to bring awareness to the cause.

Singapore’s easing of live music restrictions also comes as Southeast Asia welcomes the return of large music events, from Joyland Bali in Indonesia this weekend to Justin Bieber’s freshly announced concerts in Jakarta and Malaysia this October. That month, Singapore will welcome the return of the Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix – which besides hosting the race, also books huge international headliners such as The Killers, Queen & Adam Lambert and more.

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