1. How do I know if I’m classified as a non-permitted nightlife business and if the following FAQs apply to me?
This set of FAQs applies to businesses that are pubs, nightclubs, discotheques, dance clubs, and karaoke outlets. It covers companies that hold an SFA Foodshop (Pubs, Bars, Nightclub, Discos) licence, and have not been permitted to operate since March 2020.
2. Why are nightlife businesses not allowed to reopen? When will they be allowed to resume?
Nightlife establishments will not be able to reopen in their original form for some time. The settings of nightlife activities entail a large number of people coming into close contact for prolonged periods of time, and often in enclosed spaces, which pose a higher risk of COVID-19 transmission. Hence, we are taking a cautious approach in the reopening of this sector and must ensure that the public health risks associated with COVID-19 are mitigated before doing so.
The Government is therefore working with the nightlife industry on a few pilots, to explore the reopening of the nightlife industry safely, in limited numbers, and with stringent safe management measures (SMMs) in place. The outcome of the pilots will allow the Government to assess the feasibility of allowing additional nightlife businesses to resume. The Government will review the outcome of the pilots and the prevailing COVID-19 situation to determine the next steps for this sector.
However, as the nightlife industry may not fully reopen in its original form for a considerable period, the Government will provide support to affected nightlife businesses that wish to pivot their businesses to activities that are currently permitted, or to exit the industry.
3. What assistance is available for nightlife operators that wish to convert operations to a permitted activity?
Nightlife operators that wish to convert operations to a permitted activity may apply to Enterprise Singapore (“ESG”) for a grant to defray qualifying costs incurred during the pivoting process such as costs related to refurbishment works, and the purchase of kitchen and service equipment.
Companies can apply to ESG through the Singapore Nightlife Business Association (“SNBA”) at firstname.lastname@example.org to seek financial support for pivoting to other uses.
4. What other support measures are there if operators choose not to pivot?
As nightlife businesses are not permitted to open for the time being, operators may consider making a commercial decision to pivot, remain closed or exit the industry, based on their own business assessment.
For nightlife establishments intending to exit the industry, companies can apply to ESG through SNBA to seek financial support to offset one month of retrenchment benefit to be paid to local employees, capped at the industry median monthly wage of $3,000.
Firms can also apply to ESG to seek an ex-gratia payment of $30,000 to defray the costs associated with the cessation of business.
To begin your grant application process for winding down, please reach out to SNBA at email@example.com.
5. Can companies which have taken up the pivot support package but later decide to cease business still qualify for the exit support package?
Companies which have received the pivot support package will not be eligible for the exit support package. We strongly advise companies to consider the available options and make their own business assessment on the next steps prior to any application for support.
6. Can companies which have pivoted to permitted activities or exited the industry prior to the effective date of the support packages qualify for the pivot or exit support package respectively on a retrospective basis?
For nightlife operators who had taken the initiative to change their business activity earlier, ESG will be prepared to extend the pivot support package on a case-by-case basis. Operators may write to SNBA at firstname.lastname@example.org to appeal for the pivot support package. Such appeals will be assessed by ESG subsequently on a case-by-case basis.
Nightlife operators who had exited the industry or are in the process of doing so may qualify for the exit support package if they are still registered with Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (“ACRA”) at the point of application. The retrenchment benefit support will be tied to the number of local employees at the point of application. Employers who have retrenched their employees and provided the retrenchment benefit prior to the effective date of the exit support package may write to SNBA at email@example.com. Such appeals will be assessed by ESG on a case-by-case basis.
7. Can a company participating in the pilot apply for the pivot or exit support package?
Companies which are participating in the pilots are not eligible for the pivot and exit support packages. Companies may only consider applying for the pivot or exit support package once they are no longer participating in the pilot, or if the pilot has ended and nightlife businesses continue to remain closed in view of the prevailing public health risks associated with COVID-19.
8. Are there any financial support provided under the Ministry of Law’s Simplified Insolvency Programme?
The Simplified Insolvency Programme assists micro and small companies that require support to restructure their debts or wind up the company. There will be a co-payment component for applicant companies under the programme. More details will be announced in due course.
9. How is the Government intending to support businesses who may have suffered significant impairment in fulfilling their contracts?
The Government recognises that COVID-19 is an unforeseen event and some businesses may be faced with substantial obligations from contracts entered into before the pandemic.
The Ministry of Law has introduced a legislative Re-Align Framework under the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act to allow businesses which have experienced a substantial change in circumstances due to COVID-19, to renegotiate certain prescribed contracts with their counterparties, failing which they may be able to terminate the contract. For more details, please visit here.