Some Singapore nightlife businesses to reopen in December with mandatory safety measures

Karaoke lounges and nightclubs will have to wait until January 2021

Some Singaporean nightlife establishments will be allowed to reopen in December as part of a two-month pilot programme, with mandatory safety measures such as mask-wearing, COVID-19 testing and surveillance camera usage.

The pilot was announced last Friday (November 6) by the Ministry Of Trade And Industry and the Ministry Of Home Affairs. Select pubs and bars reopening in December must ensure patrons wear masks at all times, except when they are eating and drinking, and have tested negative for COVID-19 beforehand.

These COVID-19 tests (either polymerase chain reaction tests or antigen rapid tests) may be administered by establishments on site, as Channel NewsAsia reported. Patrons can also get tested at clinics prior to visiting the establishments.

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Establishments must abide by existing alcohol regulations, which prohibit its sale or consumption after 10.30pm, and also deploy and activate CCTV cameras at all times “to cover all parts of the common areas and rooms used for the activities”. These recordings will be stored for at least 28 days so enforcement agencies can “check for compliance with [safe management measures]”.

A pilot programme for karaoke lounges and nightclubs will only begin in January 2021 “to allow the establishments more time to make the necessary preparations”, and will last for three months instead of two.

This comes about a month after the government said it was finalising measures to support the nightlife industry, which was dealt a serious blow by the pandemic and government restrictions: nearly 60 nightclubs, discotheques, dance clubs and karaoke lounges closed in the first six months of the year.

In its press release, the government warned that “even if the pilots turn out well, it is expected that the nightlife industry will not resume operations in their original form for a considerable period.

“The Government has thus worked out an assistance package to help nightlife establishments pivot to permissible activities or exit the industry.” These establishments can now apply for grants of up to $50,000 to help with costs incurred by pivoting to “permissible activities” such as food & beverage operations.

On the other hand, establishments wishing to exit the industry can apply for ex-gratia payments of up to $30,000 to help with costs associated with ceasing business. They can also seek financial support to pay local employees retrenchment benefits.

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Establishments can only apply for one type of assistance package. Interested parties can contact the Singapore Nightlife Business Association (SNBA) at helpdesk@snba.org.sg for more information.

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