COVID-19 restrictions: No dining-in allowed amid spike in community cases

SINGAPORE — From this Sunday (16 May) till 13 June, only takeaway and delivery options will be allowed for all dine-in F&B establishments, including hawker centres and food courts, as Singapore tightens restrictions amid a recent spike in COVID-19 community cases.

"Dine-in F&B establishments are a higher-risk setting as customers often dine for prolonged periods in close proximity with each other with their masks-off," said the Ministry of Health (MOH).

The curb is among the additional measures and restrictions under Phase 2 (Heightened Alert).

As recent clusters have demonstrated that higher attack rates and secondary transmission occur in mask-off settings, households, and at eateries, indoor “mask-off” activities will cease, added MOH.

The temporary ban on dining in was among a slew of new measures announced by the multi-ministry taskforce on COVID-19 at a virtual press conference on Friday. The measures come as Singapore fights to contain a spike in community infections, some of which are linked to variants of the coronavirus.

"What we have seen so far from the recent cases suggests that the mutant strains and new strains of the virus are more infectious. And the risk settings where infection can take place are when people are in an indoor environment without their mask on," said Education Minister and MTF co-chair Lawrence Wong.

"And that's why we are focused on tightening restrictions in such a setting."

Other activities which will also not be allowed during this period include strenuous indoor exercise classes or strenuous individual and group indoor sports and exercise activities. In addition, personalised services which require masks to be removed - such as facials and saunas - singing, and the playing of instruments that require intentional expulsion of air - such as wind or brass instruments - will not be allowed.

However, medical and dental services will continue.

On Thursday, Singapore reported 34 new COVID-19 cases, with 24 community cases and 10 imported ones.

Support for F&B establishments

From 15 May to 13 June, the Jobs Support Scheme (JSS) support rate for F&B establishments will be increased to half of the first $4,600 of gross monthly wages paid to local employees. This is an increase from the 10 per cent support for wages paid up to June 2021.

In addition, the government will provide one month of rental waiver for hawker stall and coffeeshop tenants of government agencies. This is to support hawkers and coffeeshop stallholders, who are self-employed and do not benefit from the JSS. "Commercial landlords are urged to support their F&B tenants through this period," said MOH.

Asked for an assessment of the potential impact of the new measures on F&B businesses, Wong said it would be "hard to predict".

"Certainly the F&B sector will be impacted. You know the takeout business is not the same as dining in, and therefore while they can shift to take out there will be an impact on the revenues and bottom lines," he said.

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