COVID-19: Exactly which 'essential services' can remain open from 7 April?

People queue to pay for groceries at a supermarket here on 3 April, 2020. (PHOTO: AFP via Getty Images)
People queue to pay for groceries at a supermarket here on 3 April, 2020. (PHOTO: AFP via Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — The government on Friday (3 April) announced that most workplaces, except for essential services and those in key economic sectors, will be closed starting from next Tuesday till 4 May.

The closure may be extended if necessary.

Essential services include food establishments, markets and supermarkets, clinics, hospitals, utilities, transport and key banking services.

Companies should allow employers to work from home where possible, while arrangements would be made for those who are unable to, such as foreign workers who live in dormitories and work on construction sites and in shipyards.

All other business, social or other activities that cannot be conducted through a work-from-home arrangement shall be suspended. Food and beverage outlets can only offer take-away and deliveries – no dining in is allowed.

Errant employers who fail to comply with these new measures could be jailed up to six months, or fined up to $10,000, or both, under the Infectious Diseases Act.

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) officers will begin enforcement operations from next Tuesday to ensure that only businesses who are exempted from the suspension are operating from their workplace premises.

Here is a comprehensive look at the businesses exempted from the closure, as published on

What are essential services?

Healthcare and social services

  1. Acute hospitals (including offsite specialist clinics and offsite Ambulatory Surgical Centres), community hospitals.

  2. Primary care services (i.e. polyclinics and private sector primary care services), non-elective and urgent/emergency dental services, renal dialysis centres, TCM clinics (for consultation & drug dispensary services only).

  3. Community care services:
    – This includes nursing homes, psychiatric rehabilitation homes, psychiatric sheltered home, inpatient palliative care.

    – Home medical services, home nursing, home palliative care, meals on wheels.

    – For seniors with inadequate family support and intensive custodial care needs, home personal care and designated senior care centres/psychiatric day centres.

  4. Community mental health services, senior befriending, counselling and case management services, and alert alarm system/check-ins by Senior Activity Centres are to be delivered remotely.
    – Services to be delivered remotely where possible. For certain blocks where remote monitoring is not possible, staff to continue manning the Alert Alarm System at the Senior Activity Centres.

  5. Supporting services (e.g. blood services, laboratories and radiological services, research related to COVID-19, pharmacies, disease surveillance and response services, medical and patient transport, provision of medical items, personal care items, and TCM medical halls).

  6. Essential supply chains (e.g. medical wholesale and distribution, mask, PPE, medical supplies and equipment manufacturers, medical gas supply).

  7. Selected social services to support vulnerable segments of the population.
    – This includes residential services for those with no alternative accommodation, community-based intervention for those with no alternative caregiving arrangements, community-based social services for priority cases, and public facing services for priority cases e.g. serious/urgent cases, cases requiring intensive supervision.

  8. Selected care services for students such as those in preschools, Student Care Centres and SPED schools (including for children of essential services workers).
    – Parents may approach their children’s preschools and schools for assistance.
    – Priority given to parents in essential services like healthcare.


  1. Food supply (including food and food ingredient production, food manufacturing, food processing, abattoirs/ slaughterhouses, importers and traders, and food logistics – cold stores/warehouses), supermarkets, convenience stores, grocery retailers, wholesale markets, wet markets.

  2. F&B outlets (including hawker centres, coffee-shops, food courts, restaurants, fast food, and others; for takeaway and delivery orders only) and their supporting operations (including central kitchens).

  3. Food caterers.

  4. Food delivery services.

  5. Food packaging and printing service providers.

  6. Laboratory food safety testing and its supporting services.

  7. Activities pertaining to extension of shelf-life (e.g. retort manufacturing) or manufacturing of ready-to-eat meals.


  1. Electricity generation, transmission, and distribution services, and their Original Manufacturing Equipment (OEM) contractors/ suppliers and equipment/ spare parts/ repair/ maintenance providers.

  2. Gas companies involved in the supply, transmission, and distribution of natural gas and town gas, and their OEM contractors/ suppliers and equipment/ spare parts/ repair/ maintenance providers.

  3. Services relating to the refining, supply, distribution and storage of essential fuel products, and their contractors.

  4. Services for the production of town gas and their contractors.

  5. Bus transport operators for electricity/gas (natural and town gas) facilities.

  6. Services for the bottling and distribution of cylinder gas.

  7. Petrol kiosks.

Water, Waste, Environment

  1. Potable Water, NEWater and Industrial Water supply, collection and treatment of used water, management of storm water.

  2. Supply of chemicals, equipment, material, spare parts and services to PUB for the above.

  3. Supply of labour for operation and maintenance of process and systems for PUB.

  4. Waste collection and disposal services (e.g. waste collection, disposal facilities).

  5. Funeral-related services (e.g. funeral directors/undertakers, crematoria, columbarium, funeral parlours).

  6. Environmental hygiene monitoring and public cleansing services (e.g. cleaning, disinfection, environmental research on COVID-19).

  7. Markets and cooked food centre management (e.g. cleaning and maintenance).

  8. Vector control services (e.g. pest control, fumigation, research on vector control).

  9. Pollution control and monitoring services (e.g. toxic and biohazardous waste management).

  10. Meteorological services.

  11. Radiation monitoring and control services (e.g. maintenance of healthcare-related irradiation equipment X-ray, CT scans).

Transportation and Storage

  1. Air traffic control, airport operations, air transport services, runway enhancement and maintenance.

  2. Shipping, shipping-related services, safety and navigation services, port and terminal operations, port marine service.

  3. Provision of public transport services, including key supporting services and suppliers.

  4. Monitoring and management of traffic and road operations.

  5. Provision of point-to-point transport services (including taxis, private hire cars), and key supporting services and suppliers.

  6. Third party logistics providers, freight forwarders, trucking, air express integrators.

  7. Transportation that is necessary to support other essential services.

  8. All warehouses and storage services to support other essential services.

Information and Communications

  1. Telecommunications (fixed, mobile and internet access), data centres, broadcasting services (radio and television).

  2. Submarine cable operations.

  3. Postal services, security printing services, publication of newspapers.

  4. ICT support tools, software and services for enterprises and individuals (to enable telecommuting, videoconferencing, e-commerce, finance, and enterprise networks/systems, IT services).

  5. Cybersecurity in support of other essential services and digital economy.

  6. Platforms and services such as ride-hailing, food delivery, groceries, and online payments.

  7. Social media and messaging platforms.

Defence and Security

  1. Defence and security firms, supporting firms and establishments protecting buildings and homes.

  2. Development and research projects that support essential services or national security.

Construction, Facilities Management and Critical Public Infrastructure

  1. Companies involved in epidemic control (e.g. sanitation, disinfection, cleaning, laundry).

  2. Defence and security firms, supporting firms and establishments protecting buildings and homes.

  3. Development project that support essential services or national security.

  4. Companies involved in epidemic control (e.g. sanitation, disinfection, cleaning, laundry).

  5. Selected development projects assessed to be in critical stages of construction and are unable to stop due to potential safety risks.

  6. Construction work in progress for (i) critical public infrastructure, (ii) maintenance and services to ensure public safety, and (iii) emergency repairs and maintenance.

  7. The following construction works should be allowed to continue:
    – Safety-critical works. These are works assessed by BCA to be in critical stages of construction, and that cannot be stopped suddenly due to potential public safety risks. However, these projects should be wound down to a state where works may be safely stopped. Examples: deep basement excavation works, deep tunneling works (which could lead to sinkholes/collapses if stopped).

    – Projects that support essential services or are necessary for public safety. These are projects that support the supply of essential services (water, electricity) to the public, or that are essential to maintain public safety. Examples: utility projects that would cause disruptions to the public if stopped (e.g. water, gas, sewerage/drainage, comms, power lines), limited HIP internal works (e.g. completion of toilet), emergency works to ensure structural safety of a building, urgent repairs to public infrastructure to ensure public safety.

  8. Provision of housekeeping/FM services for certain high-risk workplaces to ensure health and safety (e.g. construction sites – risk of collapse of temporary structure, maintenance of tower cranes, risks of dengue etc.)

    – All firms involved in the provision of facilities management (FM) services for buildings and infrastructure should be allowed to continue working.

    – This should include all FM firms, as well as firms involved in the maintenance of key equipment such as: i. Air-conditioning and mechanical ventilation systems; ii. Fire protection systems; iii. Security and surveillance systems (such as CCTVs); iv. Electrical and plumbing works; and v. Building management systems

  9. Provision of lift and escalator (L&E) maintenance services, and facilities management (FM) services for buildings and infrastructure (e.g. plumbing, electrical works, conservancy services).

    – All firms involved in the provision of maintenance services for lifts and escalators should be allowed to continue working, in order to maintain public safety.

  10. Landscaping for public safety (e.g. tree pruning or arboriculture services; shrub pruning, grass cutting a.k.a. horticulture services).

    – Essential landscape sector services critical for maintaining public safety should be allowed to continue. Trees that are not properly maintained can pose a threat to public safety. Other greenery may also need to be maintained to prevent hazards. If public parks are to remain open, there is also a need for a basic level of operations. Examples: tree inspections and pruning, removal of fallen trees/diseased trees, pruning of shrubs that may obstruct traffic, enforcement of safe distancing measures at parks, basic park maintenance to remove hazards/maintain hygiene.

  11. Animal-related services for public safety (e.g. veterinary services – need to maintain surveillance of health of companion animals; managing wildlife like monkeys, snakes, boars).

    – Essential health inspections of animals at the borders are necessary for biosurveillance. Animal and wildlife management services should also be allowed to continue to enable our parks to remain open. Such services are essential to mitigate potential human-animal incidents.

Manufacturing & Distribution

  1. Manufacturers of essential products (e.g. chemicals and petrochemicals, healthcare supplies, medical equipment, food and food ingredient, or materials needed for other essential services) and their suppliers/contractors.

  2. Semiconductor, pharmaceutical, and biomedical science companies and their suppliers.

  3. Marine and offshore engineering companies involved in ship/vessel repair, and maintenance and overhaul services; and their contractors.

  4. Aerospace maintenance, repair, overhaul (MRO) companies and their suppliers.

  5. Manufacturing of printing, packaging and pallets to support food services, food manufacturing and any other essential products and services herein-mentioned.

  6. Distributors of essential products, including food-related items, packaging materials (both food and non-food), household items, personal care products.

Banking and Finance

  1. Services relating to maintenance of monetary and financial stability.

  2. Currency issuance, services relating to cash management and payments for the government.

  3. Banking services (e.g. cash withdrawal & deposits, lending and related processing, treasury management, payments and funds transfers).

  4. Insurance services (e.g. claims servicing, policy renewal and servicing, policy inception, insurance broking, financial advisory).

  5. Currencies, securities and derivatives trading, clearing, settlement, reporting, and depository and trust, and corporate finance advisory services.

  6. Asset management services (e.g. portfolio management and trading, trade settlement, and operations, trustee services, processing of subscriptions and redemptions in fund units, financial advisory).

  7. Payment services (e.g. fund transfers, credit card and debit card payments).


  1. Selected hotels, serviced apartments, dormitories, hostels.

    – This includes establishments supporting SHN; GQF; CIF and accommodation needs of students, foreigners, and foreign workers affected by travel restrictions, as well as for existing occupants only.

    – Hotels must close all on-site recreational facilities. Their F&B facilities may remain open only for takeaway or delivery. Hotels must also minimise the numbers of on-site staffing. All hotel staff who can perform their roles remotely (e.g., finance, HR) must telecommute.

  2. Online retail and related supply chains.

  3. Hairdressing & barber services.

    – For provision of basic haircut services only.

  4. Optician services and sale of optical products.

  5. Plumbers, electricians, & locksmiths.

    – For emergency household services only.

  6. Vehicle recovery and repair services.

    – For emergency vehicle services only, no vehicle grooming.

  7. Hardware stores.

    – For sale of building and maintenance-related equipment and tools only.

  8. Retail and repair of consumer electronics, IT peripherals, and household appliances.

  9. Laundry services for essential services.

  10. Veterinary services.

    – For provision of emergency, non-elective veterinary services, including hospitalisation.

  11. Selected face-to-face continuing education and training (CET).

    – For job placement needs or for severely affected economic sectors.

  12. Pet supplies stores (for provision of animal feed, no grooming or leisure activities allowed).

    – For provision of animal care, feed and supplies only, no cosmetic/grooming or leisure activities allowed.

  13. Private buses.

  14. Testing, inspection and certification centres.

  15. All other critical and ancillary services contracted by the government for the provision of supporting government functions or for the above-mentioned essential services.

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