S'pore nightlife reopening pilot: Masks compulsory while dancing & singing, alcohol to stop at 10:30pm

Establishments found to have breached the rules at any point during the pilot will face penalties and could be removed from the pilot

Andrew Koay | November 06, 2020, 08:00 PM

Follow us on Telegram for the latest updates: https://t.me/mothershipsg

Hit harder than most during the Covid-19 pandemic, Singapore's nightlife industry can look forward to limited reopening under pilot programmes in the coming months.

According to a Nov. 6 press release from the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) and the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), the pilot programmes will involve a small amount bars, pubs, nightclubs, discotheques, and karaoke lounges.

The pilot for pubs and bars will commence by December 2020 and last for a period of two months, while karaoke lounges and nightclubs will commence by January 2021 for a period of three months.

MTI and MHA also included a list of stringent safe management measures (SMMs) that establishments in the programme would have to follow. They include:

  • Ensuring all customers wear masks at all times except while eating and drinking. For example, masks must be worn by customers on the dance floor or while singing
  • Ensuring no alcohol is sold, served, or consumed after 10:30pm
  • Ensuring that all customers entering karaoke lounges and nightclubs have tested negative for Covid-19 24 hours prior to end of the activity at the nightlife establishment
  • Ensuring CCTVs are deployed and activated at all times, with common areas and rooms used for the activities surveilled. Recordings must be stored for at least 28 days, for regular reviews by the enforcement agencies to check for compliance with SMMs.

Pilot programmes could be suspended or terminated

The month delay for karaoke lounges and nightclubs to begin their reopening pilots will allow such establishments to make preparations to ensure customers have tested negative for Covid-19 before entering their premises, said the ministries.

MTI and MHA added that the longer pilot period was needed to assess the readiness of such establishments to reopen, given the high risks and more stringent SMMs required in karaoke bars and nightclubs.

The pilots will be used to determine the viability and robustness of the SMMs and the nightlife industry's ability to comply with them before the government considers allowing any further resumption of nightlife businesses.

Establishments found to have breached the prescribed SMMs at any point during the pilot will face penalties under the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) Act 2020 and may be removed from the pilot.

Covid-19 clusters emerging from the establishments could also trigger a suspension or termination of the pilot, said the ministries.

Enforcement agencies will monitor participating establishments’ and their customers’ compliance with the SMMs to assess whether the industry can resume limited operations after the pilot or if it should remain closed.

Support for businesses pivoting or exiting the industry

In addition, MTI and MHA announced measures supporting businesses seeking to pivot from or exit the nightlife industry.

This includes a grant of up to S$50,000 from Enterprise Singapore (ESG) to defray qualifying costs during the pivoting process.

The grant can be used to cover the costs of equipment and third-party consultancies.

Those seeking to exit the industry completely can apply to ESG for an ex-gratia payment of S$30,000 to defray the costs of the cessation of business.

Nightlife not expected to reopen anytime soon

Education Minister Lawrence Wong — also the co-chair of the Covid-19 multi-ministry task force — had previously announced on Oct. 20 that bars, clubs, nightclubs and karaoke lounges were not expected to re-open at the start of Phase 3.

However, at the time he left the door open for pilot programmes, saying:

"It's also for the industry itself to consider whether it's viable to proceed. Because of all these measures in place...a dance club may not sound like a dance club anymore if there is safe management and safe distancing measures for you to be separated from another person.

So we'll have to have this conversation with the industry to consider what's the best way to proceed. And...we do not expect, even with the pilots for the industry to be able to resume activities like the way it used to be."

Top image from Zouk's Facebook page

Totally unrelated but follow and listen to our podcast here