F&B operators ask for easing of curbs on music, alcohol sales
Food and beverage (F&B) operators have called on the Government to allow the sale of alcohol till midnight, which currently must stop at 10.30pm, as well as recorded background music to be played to make dining in more attractive to patrons.
While they welcomed having on-premises dining again, they also asked for early payouts from job support and rent relief schemes, saying that many businesses are on the brink of closure.
In a joint letter to the Government yesterday, the Singapore Nightlife Business Association, Singapore Cocktail Bar Association and #savefnbsg, an independent restaurant coalition of 500 establishments, laid out the toll of Covid-19 restrictions on the sector and appealed to the Government to accelerate reopening measures.
They said: "F&B businesses are struggling to resume normalcy following three rounds of closures in the last 18 months. Many have depleted their cash flow and are at risk of permanent closure.
"The most recent support measures are appreciated and have provided temporary financial relief.
"However, what the F&B industry needs is an expedited reopening, so we can start working towards financial independence and becoming viable businesses once again."
According to a survey of 639 respondents from the F&B sector, 80 per cent said their revenue had dropped by 75 per cent or more in the last two rounds of restrictions between May and July.
About 43 per cent had taken out loans of up to $1.5 million to keep going, and 8 per cent had taken out loans between $1.5 million and $3 million.
Seventy per cent said they had undertaken employee cost-saving measures such as layoffs and salary cuts, while the same percentage had requested deferments on rent and debt repayment.
The operators also asked the Government to bring forward the Rental Support Scheme and Jobs Support Scheme scheduled for October and December respectively to support struggling establishments.
Infectious diseases specialist Leong Hoe Nam said the current vaccination rate was not high enough for a rapid easing of restrictions.
"With a slow reopening, we expect to see a rise in cases, but a surge of severe cases among those who are unvaccinated may result in a burden on the healthcare system," he said.