SINGAPORE — The restrictions on home-based businesses (HBBs), including those producing food items, may be eased in time for Hari Raya if the number of COVID-19 community cases comes down, said Minister-in-Charge of Muslim Affairs Masagos Zulkifli.
“As my colleague, (National Development) Minister Lawrence Wong has shared, the restrictions on HBBs may be eased if the community transmission numbers are brought down. If we all cooperate and stay calm, it will be in time for the Hari Raya orders,” said Masagos in a Facebook post on Wednesday (29 April).
“We are making progress, but we need to stay the course,” said the 57-year-old, who is also Minister for the Environment and Water Resources.
In his post, Masagos responded to the concerns raised by many Malay-Muslim owners of home-based food businesses (HBBfs) who have been affected by the authorities’ decision to not allow them to operate during the circuit breaker period if they are required to leave their premises or use third-party services to deliver their goods.
Singapore’s circuit breaker period, during which businesses involved in non-essential services are closed, is set to end on 1 June.
“I understand their frustration, especially for many Malay/Muslim HBBfs this Ramadan and Hari Raya period, as they will have received many orders and their seasonal incomes would have been hit,” he said.
Masagos noted, however, that many HBBf operators understand the rationale and need for “these painful measures” and “accept they have to tide through this period like everybody else”. He added that this was the impression he received from tuning into video producer Sujimy Mohamad's Facebook Live show on Monday.
Help for home-based food businesses
In his post, Masagos also listed three ways in which the government has been helping HBBf owners.
The first is via various assistance schemes, such as the Temporary Relief Fund (TRF). He added that Thursday would be the last day for people to apply for the fund and that the Singapore Malay Chamber of Commerce & Industry (SMCCI) would help to automatically qualify HBBfs that have registered with it for the TRF.
Second, legal support – in the form of volunteer lawyers who dispense free legal advice – is being provide to HBBf owners who are unable to fulfil their obligations. Those in need of such support can contact these lawyers at firstname.lastname@example.org
Third, SMCCI is collecting data from HBBs to better understand the impact of the circuit breaker measures on their income, so as to determine how to “better support during this challenging period and in the long term”.
“This could be in the form of supporting them in logistics and delivery, and training them for business management. SMCCI will work with (Enterprise Singapore) on how they can support this sector and make them more resilient,” said Masagos.
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